NEW HARTFORD – Connor Nelson’s dream met reality Wednesday.
The senior lacrosse star always wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and play lacrosse at Syracuse University. Nelson signed his letter of intent in front of family, friends, teachers, coaches and school administrators at an afternoon press conference at New Hartford’s school library.
“Honestly, it’s a surreal feeling,” said Connor Nelson said, who inked his signature then quickly and proudly put on an orange Syracuse hat. “I never thought I’d see the day and now that it’s here, it’s pretty awesome.”
Nelson has 272 career points during his three varsity seasons. He has 130 goals and 142 assists and is just eight points from breaking the school mark of 279 set by Dave Misiaszek (2002-04). He also had offers from Binghamton and LeMoyne, but his heart was always with Syracuse.
“He always wanted to go to Syracuse,” said Tim Nelson, a 2012 inductee into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame who was a dominant attackman that helped Syracuse win its first national title in 1983.
“I encouraged him to look elsewhere and to not pressure him, but it was his dream to play at Syracuse. Most kids that grow up playing lacrosse in Central New York dream of playing at Syracuse. It’s a great accomplishment.”
Tim Nelson is second in Division I history in career assists with 221 and won the Jack Turnbull Award three times (83-85) which is given to the National Collegiate Attackman of the Year. His 320 career points are also among the all-time leaders. For all his accomplishments, Tim was humbled watching his son sign with Syracuse. He also knows better than anyone else what it’ll take for Connor to make an impact for the 11-time national champions.
“It’s obviously a proud moment for me,” Tim Nelson said. “We’re grateful to New Hartford High School and the coaches, teachers and administrators. He has all the tools. He has skill, speed and smarts. What will determine the impact he can have is strength and how much effort and time he puts into getting stronger. He has everything else.”
Dan Pope, Nelson’s head coach at New Hartford, was also on hand to watch his star pupil live out one of his athletic dreams. Pope lauds Nelson’s work ethic as one of the assets that has helped him earn a Division I scholarship.
“I think the big thing for me is his commitment to get better and improve his weaknesses,” said Pope, who has coached for 25 years. “We needed a lefty and he made himself a lefty in one summer and played on the left side of the cage the next season. I’ve never seen a kid do that.”
Nelson’s skill and ability to make teammates better also stands out for Pope.
“His strength as a player is his vision,” Pope said. “He is a feeder, and has the ability to create for others better than any kid I’ve had. I’ve never seen anyone better.”
Nelson will play basketball this winter for the Spartans before turning his attention to his final lacrosse season. Then it’ll be off to Syracuse in the summer to begin the next chapter of his career as a student/athlete.
“I just want to get on the field at some point and make a difference for the team,” Nelson said.
Following in his dad’s footsteps could be difficult for some, but Connor is just ready to get to work and is prepared to make his own mark.
“My dad pushes me, but never forces me to do anything,” Connor said. “He says it’s all up to me to do the work. He also keeps me level-headed and says if I work hard it will come.”
Nick Sardina is a writer for midyorksportsreport.com. Follow Nick onTwitter @nsardinamysr or on Facebook. Contact him via email at