By Kyle LoJacono
Garrett Linquist spent his college years helping the Saint Leo University men’s lacrosse team reach new heights and is now helping students and athletes do the same.
Linquist spent the last two school years teaching gifted social studies at John Long Middle in Wesley Chapel after being a part of two Deep South Conference championships from 2005-09 with the Lions.
“I was one of those kids who enjoyed going to school and learning,” Linquist said. “I was always really interested in history and government. I enjoyed most of my teachers, and I model some of my teaching after them. What I love about it is you get to help the outcome of a kid’s life. You get to talk about a subject you like. It’s just a lot of fun to see kids grow.”
Linquist joined John Long’s staff for the 2010-11 school year after completing his internship with the school.
Linquist also gets to teach the game he loves as an assistant on the Wiregrass Ranch boys lacrosse team and with the Tampa Tribe club, a part of the Wesley Chapel Athletic Association. He also is an assistant on the John Long football team.
“You can teach life lessons to these kids,” Linquist said. “I feel like I’m the person I am today because of my coaches, whether it was in football or lacrosse. They all taught me something, and I want to have that impact on kids’ lives.”
Saint Leo men’s lacrosse coach Brad Jorgensen, who started the Lions program, said he is not shocked where Linquist has ended up.
“He was always the person to do anything to help the whole team and would always help other players with their technique,” Jorgensen said. “When I heard he became a teacher and a coach it didn’t surprise me at all, because that’s right in line with the kind of person he is.”
Linquist said of Jorgensen, “He’s one of those guys who is real down to earth and tells you like it is. He really inspired me, and I model my coaching style after what he did. He loves to win and he really cares about the sport.”
Linquist was born in Chicago, but grew up in Lake Mary, northeast of Orlando. He started playing lacrosse as a freshman in high school.
“It was something new, and it was very physical,” said Linquist, who also golfed and played football in high school. “It takes a lot of conditioning because it’s a fast-paced game. I liked hockey when I was a kid, and I’m still a big Chicago Blackhawks fan. Lacrosse is a lot like hockey, so it kind of grew on me.”
When Linquist was looking for a college, Saint Leo was not the first program that came to his mind.
“I didn’t know much about Saint Leo, but my coach in high school (Frank Lanuto) mentioned it to me,” Linquist said. “It was just starting its lacrosse program, so I wanted to check it out. I liked the feel and the area there. It was a little hard my first year because all my friends were going to FSU, UCF or UF and were excited about the big school, but that wears off after the first year.”
Linquist, a defender, was one of the first players to attend the school for the sport. Jorgensen even described him as “one of the founding fathers of our lacrosse team. He was on our very first team.”
Linquist said one of the most important things he learned while in college was about uniting for a common goal.
“You had all these kids from the Northeast, the Midwest, the West coast and the Southeast all coming together and becoming one team,” Linquist said. “It was like a brotherhood, and I still see a lot of them all the time. I’ll never forget those guys.”
Linquist took a medical redshirt during his sophomore season because of a chest injury, but the extra year allowed him to double major in education and history.
“Sometime in high school I knew I wanted to be a social studies teacher and coach lacrosse,” Linquist said. “Saint Leo has a great education program and it just fit me, because it let me get my degree and play lacrosse at the same time. It was one of the best decisions of my life.”
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