After being asked to join the team by the coach, Mason Dennis has become one of the most skilled players in the Public League.
Mike Kennedy has an eye for talent.
Kennedy is the boys lacrosse coach at Frankford High School, and when looking for potential players in the up-and-coming sport, his eyes are always open. So two years ago, when the Pioneers were playing a basketball game, he saw something in Mason Dennis, who was then a a rugged power forward on the Frankford junior varsity team.
“Coach Kennedy saw me and said, ‘You, I want you to come out for lacrosse,’ ” Dennis recalled. “I didn’t know anything about lacrosse, never even thought about playing it, but once he told me he wanted me to play, I decided to come out.”
That made him a member of the team. But he needed some time to become a contributing member of the team. That didn’t take too long.
“I’m usually good at any sport I put a lot of effort into,” the Port Richmond resident said. “So I really worked hard at lacrosse because I didn’t want to be bad anymore. I had a lot of work to do, so every day after practice, I would (shoot the ball against the wall and catch it). I would do it for a few hours every day.
“Not too many people do that in Port Richmond, so people would watch. But after I got comfortable, I worked on my shot and worked with teammates. The more I did, the more I got comfortable with it. I actually ended up starting right away.”
Dennis is no longer a novice. He’s now one of the most skilled players in the Public League, and the leader of the Frankford team. Last year, he scored 27 goals, which was tops on the team, and he comes into his senior year hoping for even bigger things.
Last year, the Pioneers advanced to the second round of the Public League playoffs, but that’s not good enough for him in his final year.
“I think I want a championship so much because I’ve never won one and I just want it,” said Dennis, who was also a key player of the Pioneers basketball team that made the Public League quarterfinals, the Public League 6A finals and played a tight game against St. Joe’s Prep in the third-place District 12 game. “I think we can definitely do it. We have a pretty good team. We just don’t have a lot of experience.”
According to Dennis, the Pioneers return four offensive players and four on defense. He plays two-way midfield, so he does just about everything out there. And that will only benefit Frankford because when one of his new teammates has a question about the game, they have the perfect leader to go to.
“I love teaching and I love learning, so playing here has been great,” Dennis said. “As soon as I got back from basketball, I came and worked with everyone. It helps, I think, when you learn from teammates. You just have to be patient.
“I had guys who did the same for me, so I like it. I just want to see the sport get bigger and bigger. Our young guys might be new to the sport, but they’re great athletes. They want the same thing we all want.”
Everybody wants a championship, but according to Dennis, that’s not what his coach is most concerned about.
“Coach Kennedy’s biggest thing is to make sure we all get into college and if we can, to play lacrosse,” said Dennis, who maintains a 3.2 grade point average in the classroom. “He really pushes us to do well, and I think he loves seeing the game get bigger. I like seeing that, too.”
Kennedy will be happy to know Dennis will continue his lacrosse career next year at Rosemont College.
The good news is he’s already had discussions with the coach and is ready to play there. The better news, and the reason he’s headed there, is because it’s the perfect place for his plans.
He is going to major in math and special education. He already has the perfect job picked out.
“I’m in a class (peer group counseling) where we work with special education students and it’s the highlight of my day every day,” Dennis said. “It’s perfect because the teachers are great and I love working with the other students. Some people say I’m pretty patient, but I’m just in there having fun. Any way I can help them, I want to do it.”
Not only does he have a career picked out, he knows where he wants to do it. He wants to come home.
“The teachers help me a lot here, and they told me they’d help me if I had any questions when I’m in school,” Dennis said. “They’ll help me, and I hope to someday come back here and teach here. And, yeah, I’d love to help coach. That would be great. I love helping out now.”
With a school selected and his grades humming along, Dennis is now focused on finishing his high school career with a banner.
It didn’t happen in basketball, but lacrosse is just beginning.
“Lacrosse is my sport now and I really don’t want to leave here without winning one,” Dennis said. “Frankford is doing well. I’ll see people when I have my stick and they’ll ask me where I play. When I tell them Frankford, a lot of them say they didn’t even know we had lacrosse. But we’re doing good and getting better. We’re young, but I think we can win it all.”