Freshman Giovanni Procaccini is already making a name for himself on the men’s lacrosse team after winning The Iron Hawk Award.
The award is given to the player with the most well-rounded performance during a series of strength and body composition testing.
Each player is tested on their bench press, squat, body weight, pull-ups, broad jump, vertical jump and body fat percentage.
Assistant Coach Will Scudder said the testing shows who the strongest player is pound for pound — and that was Procaccini.
“We expect Procaccini to compete for a starting spot,” Scudder said. “He’s already displayed his athletic ability and competitiveness in the first two weeks.”
This was no surprise to Procaccini’s teammate, sophomore Scott Cole, who finished the competition in second.
However, this wasn’t the first time the two teammates competed against each other.
Cole and Procaccini have known each other since the third grade and continued on to play at McDonogh High School together.
Cole was not surprised by his friend’s performance in the team’s strength and conditioning testing. Although Cole finished as the runner-up, he said there’s no one more deserving than Procaccini.
“He’s the most athletic kid I know,” Cole said. “He’s a freak athlete.”
Growing up in Maryland, a hot spot for lacrosse, Procaccini started playing at a young age. While he played other sports, lacrosse was different from the rest.
Procaccini fell in love with the sport because it allowed him to be creative. Unlike football, he said, lacrosse allows for athletic creativity.
“Football is so scripted, but with lacrosse, I’m able to express myself,” Procaccini said.
One of the deciding factors in his decision to play for Lehigh was his older brother, Ryan. Ryan attended the University of North Carolina, but Lehigh was his second choice. This was enough to convince Procaccini to attend.
“Another big reason I chose Lehigh was because of Scott (Cole),” Procaccini said. “I wouldn’t have known anyone going into college, but having him was like my safety net.”
Cole isn’t the only teammate close with Procaccini. Another teammate, freshman Jackson Tuma, recently walked on to the team. Tuma and Procaccini spent their post-grad year together at the Salisbury School before arriving at Lehigh.
Tuma said Procaccini is the type of friend who is always in your corner.
“He is the first voice of encouragement when things are going well and the first helping hand whenever you are down,” Tuma said. “He always puts himself second to the team and does all the little things on and off the field to be a good teammate and role model.”
Procaccini is taking things one step at a time in terms of athletics and academics in his first year.
He said he’s focused on getting the team’s first win in the regular season right now. His long-term goals are winning the Patriot League Championship, and going far in the NCAA Tournament.
In the classroom, Procaccini is focusing on improving his math and analytical skills.
For Procaccini, working out is something he enjoys. He credits his athleticism to karate, which led to the development of different muscles and tendons.
“I’ve always liked working out because working out the body coincides with (exercising) your mind,” Procaccini said.
However, Procaccini has battled his fair share of bumps in the road.
During his sophomore year at McDonogh, he broke his wrist, which required surgery, halting his development. During his junior year, Procaccini was sidelined again with a torn ACL. With a seven month road to recovery, Procaccini kept a positive mentality, but the immobility unnerved him.
“You don’t feel human,” he said.
After his recovery, Procaccini received the Archer Senf Award and the Widener Award at McDonogh. Both were awarded to him for showing leadership qualities while overcoming adversity.
“I’ve experienced a lot of humbling moments throughout my life, but I’ve come out the other side, and I’m tougher because of it,” Procaccini said.