Tale of Two Schools: Athlete plays lacrosse for Plano West

He makes his way down the field in full gear, raindrops bouncing up against the turf. In one hand he holds a titanium stick, in the other his helmet. Eye black covers his face. He passes by a group of younger boys on the sideline. A few years back, he was just like one of the boys, eagerly standing by, waiting to watch his father play. In the stands and on the field are people of all sizes and ages, sporting school colors of black, white and blue. But there is no hawk on his jersey, no “H” across his helmet. He’s a hawk at heart, but a wolf for the win.

For the past three years, senior Cody DeSerrano has been playing lacrosse as part of the Plano West varsity team despite the fact that he does not attend the school. The final game of the season will be held April 19 against the Highland Park Division II team.

When Cody began playing lacrosse in high school, he was faced with a choice. At the time, there was no established lacrosse program at Hebron. He was given the option of joining the nearest Division II Texas High School Lacrosse League school: Plano West.

“Most of the guys I play with I’ve played with since the sixth grade,” Cody said. “[But when you play for another school], you’re not as connected with the team as you’d want to be. If I was at Plano West, I would probably be more connected with the guys and know them better.”

Cody’s experience with the sport began in the summer of 2004. He was inspired by his older brother Travis DeSerrano, who at the time had also just begun playing, and his father and coach Gary DeSerranno, who had previously played lacrosse for the University of Texas.

“You always want your kids to try and experiment different things and sports if they like it,” Gary said. “It was more that they were interested [in playing] than us pushing them into it. They used to watch me play quite a bit when they were very young. They were always around the team, and when they got to a certain age they started asking about [playing]. So naturally, we just signed them up.”

While he began playing in a summer indoor league in Plano, Cody eventually joined Coppell Lacrosse, a local league, where he played with his brother for two years. Cody was in fifth grade playing against boys two to three years older than him due to a lack of participating players in his age group.

“It was a little tormenting on me,” Cody said. “I was really small, and I was afraid I would just get crushed by everyone else.”

Since then, Cody has evolved in his positions as an attacker and midfielder, playing across several leagues and teams.

“I would say I’m a pretty good player,” Cody said. “They say I’m one of the fastest in the league. Definitely one of my weaknesses has always been my size, but it’s also kind of a strength too. Bigger defenders are drawn to me, and I draw a lot of penalties. They think that they can push me around, and I kind of let them do that. But they make mistakes, and I make goals.”

Cody attributes a lot of his talent to his father who began coaching when Cody was in the seventh grade.

“The boys had started having an interest in playing, and I would take them to practices and notice there weren’t a lot of lacrosse-experienced coaches,” Gary said. “A lot of them were football coaches and soccer coaches who were just trying to help out. So having played quite a few years, I decided to chip in and help. Once I started coaching, I found out I really loved it.”

Cody admits that sometimes it’s hard having a coach for a father.

“He kind of doesn’t know how to get out of coach mode sometimes, and sometimes he doesn’t know how to get out of dad mode,” Cody said. “Other players might think I’m only on the field because my dad’s the coach. You just kind of have to get over it.”

Gary gets it.

“[Coaching Cody] is probably harder for Cody than it is for me,” Gary said. “I think I was probably a little harder on him at first just because the dad in me wants him to do better and try a little harder. [Coach life and family life] almost always overlap, both the good and the bad. We try to focus on the positive.”

Despite the fact that he attends a different school, Cody is definitely one of the team. Though he feels more a part of Hebron than Plano West, the crowd doesn’t cease to chant his name during games.

“I’ve just known these guys for so long, played with them for so long,” Cody said. “It’s mostly because they’re just cool guys on and off the field that I feel like one of them.”

Over the past nine years, lacrosse has remained a family affair. Travis is on the roster at the University of Oklahoma, and Gary plays on an over-40 Super Masters team. Last summer, the three participated in an all-ages summer league where they played together on the same team.

“My brother came down from college and said he wanted to play in it with us, so we made our own team with a couple of other guys from our school,” Cody said. “It was really fun. It was a good experience because all the DeSerrano guys were on the same team, playing with each other for the first time.”

Next fall, Cody plans to study marine biology at the University of Tampa where he hopes to continue playing lacrosse.

“I’m most proud of Cody when I think about what he’s done over the years, growing as a man,” Gary said. “I’ve never heard anyone say anything negative about Cody which really makes me proud as a dad, knowing that he has such a good character about him. I just want him to go have a ball at college and find the passion for what he wants to do. I just want him to be happy.”