Attackman keeps it in the family
Father-son combo working out for Syracuse
When Tim Desko and his Syracuse teammates watch highlights from their team’s rich lacrosse history, the West Genesee High School graduate probably has a different perspective than most.
After all, as the son of Orange head coach John Desko, the redshirt junior attackman watched many of those moments happen with his own two eyes.
“Since he was a young kid, he grew up with the team,” the elder Desko said, “in the locker room, on the bus for road trips. I would have been surprised, bleeding Orange all these years, had he chosen someplace else.”
Given how well acquainted Tim Desko is with Syracuse history, he’s probably enjoying his biggest contribution to it that much more.
The past few days have seen Tim named the Big East Offensive Player of the Week and the Nike/Inside Lacrosse Player of the Week, in the wake of a career best performance against No. 2 Virginia. Playing in front of more than 15,000 fans at the Carrier Dome and a national television audience on ESPN U, Desko scored a career-best five goals to pace the Orange in a 12-10 victory over the Cavaliers.
“I can’t complain,” Tim said. “It’s a great experience for me, and it’s great to get those awards, and it’s good that we got a great win for our team.”
For someone who grew up watching the likes of Gary Gait and the Powell brothers lead the Orange to NCAA Championships, leading Syracuse to victory in a game between the top two teams in the country fulfilled a fantasy of sorts.
“I’ve been dreaming of that since I was a young kid,” Desko said, “growing up watching the program. I’ve been around it all my life, and I didn’t predict playing that well, but I guess it just makes my standards that much higher from now on.”
His father is confident that Tim will be able to meet those standards.
“It’s certainly a confidence builder,” John said of Tim’s performance against the Cavaliers. “I think other teams are going to start looking at him differently, as more of a priority for them, so those goals may come a little harder, but if that’s the case, it usually opens it up for someone else. He’s been playing well, dodging for goals, and finishing off of other people’s dodges, so he’s been producing in all the games, and it’s good to see that he’s producing and getting better.”
Naturally, John Desko was proud of his son’s big game against Virginia, although it took him a little while to appreciate it as Tim’s father. After all, at the time, he was more focused on being Tim’s coach.
“You’re so busy in the course of a game,” the elder Desko said, “seeing it more, I think, as a coach. You see a goal, but as a coach, you’re right on to the next play. Certainly, to have five of them in a game like that was big for us, in a two-goal game. I enjoy it more afterwards as a father, and in years to come.”
Overall, though, the 13th-season head coach of the Orange has little difficulty finding the balance between father and coach.
“He doesn’t get home a lot,” John said. “Occasionally, he’s home and there’ll be a load of wash sitting there in the basket, that he’s done or that his mom’s helped him with. Then, in the springtime, we’re going six days a week, and along with his schoolwork, I don’t think these guys really have time to get home. His mother’s jealous of me because I get to see him almost every day. She’ll come to the games and see him after the games, or that occasional stop at home, but more in the fall than in the spring.”
For his part, Tim’s teammates weren’t instantly comfortable around the coach’s son – “The first week of my freshman year,” the younger Desko said, “a couple of people were hesitant around me.” – but he’s come to enjoy both being at school and being near his family.
“It’s nice to have home 20 minutes away,” Tim said, “to do laundry or get some nice food. Having my family around is nice.”
And, while Tim Desko and his teammates certainly enjoyed “home cooking” last week against the Cavaliers, capping off a 3-0 season-opening homestand that’s also seen victories over No. 16 Army and No. 17 Denver, they’re ready to hit the road. The Orange faces Georgetown on Saturday (11:00 a.m. ET, ESPN U) at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, site of this year’s NCAA Championship. For a team that starts every season looking to add to its collection of national titles, it’s a good reminder of where the Orange wants to be on Memorial Day Weekend.
“Playing in an NFL stadium like that is a great experience,” Tim said, “and especially with the national championship being there, it could be a good preview for us.”
Plus, getting away from the upstate New York weather for the warmth of Baltimore doesn’t hurt either.
“The forecast is 60 and sunny,” Tim said, “so that’s a nice spring break for us.”
If Tim Desko’s breakout performance against Virginia is any indication, chances are that there many more “sunny days” ahead.