Lyco’s Tenant cementing place in history after being overlooked in high school

Michael Tenant blocks a shot for Lycoming during a game this season with the men’s lacrosse team.

Michael Tenant was discouraged. He felt like he was overlooked and passed over. It appeared his dream of playing lacrosse in college was on life support after not making his varsity squad at Calvert Hall.

The Lycoming senior goalkeeper never played a second of varsity lacrosse in high school. He played on the freshman/sophomore team his first two years of high school, but never made the jump to varsity. He didn’t make the final cut during tryouts his junior year and never even got a chance his senior year. He was behind three goalies who already had college offers and never got to show his abilities on the varsity stage.

Instead of playing for Calvert Hall, a lacrosse powerhouse that is consistently one of the top-ranked teams in the nation, Tenant played club lacrosse for Team Maryland and his senior year he played with a home-school team called Fellowship Christian Athletes. It wasn’t the path he dreamed of, but it was the only viable one to play lacrosse in college, a dream of his since he was younger.

It might’ve been a major fork in the road for the Baltimore native, but he ultimately ended up at the right place.

Game by game and save by save, Tenant is cementing his legacy as the best goalie in Lycoming College history. The senior is just three saves from becoming the programs all-time leader and the Warriors are on the brink of a second straight MAC Commonwealth tournament appearance and his play in net is a major reason why.

“I don’t think I ever imagined it’d be like this. It’s almost like a fairytale for me sometimes. The school it was and all that we went through freshman and sophomore year, a lot of tough losses, a lot of growing pains being such a young team, but now we’ve come into our own,” Tenant said. “We’re emerging and we’re making one of the better runs the program has ever seen. I don’t think I ever could’ve imagined it going this way, especially some of those times when you’re a freshman or sophomore and you keep coming up short. … You see all your friends going to these well established big programs. I don’t think I could ever imagine my lacrosse career going like this.”

Being overlooked at Calvert Hall has given Tenant an edge. He’s out to prove everybody wrong and the surging Warriors, who have won four of five, have benefited from it. Many of his 653 career saves have come in game-saving situations or even season-saving ones like when he made 11 stops last season to help earn the program’s first postseason victory in four years in a triple overtime thriller against Lebanon Valley. He’s third in career wins and is in the top 10 in save percentage and goals against average.

It was hard for Tenant to keep his spirits up in high school. While his classmates were receiving Division I offers and winning state championships with Calvert Hall as the nation’s top-ranked lacrosse team, Tenant was playing with a club squad and another team full of home-schoolers.

“It was a very good school. Everyone wants to always play for Calvert Hall lacrosse, especially being in that area. When everyone knows you play lacrosse and you try to go to college for lacrosse, but you didn’t make the varsity team, it was definitely discouraging,” Tenant said. “But my parents were really important in keeping me encouraged. They were like, ‘It doesn’t define who you are as a player, you can still get to your end goal.’ The end goal wasn’t to play for Calvert Hall, the end goal was to play in college. I always kept that in my mind. My main goal was to get to college and do whatever I could to get somewhere and play.”

Tenant was surrounded by high-level talent at Calvert Hall as all three goalies ahead of him are playing on the college level. One is starting at Boston University, another is at Division III powerhouse Salisbury, which is the top ranked team in the nation, and the third is an all-conference keeper for Division II Florida Tech.

While they were all gaining national attention, Tenant was attending college fairs trying to find the best fit. Instead of being wooed by college coaches, Tenant had to do the wooing. After going to a college fair in Baltimore City, Tenant saw a table for Lycoming and found out the school offered lacrosse. After skimming the college’s athletics website, he came across the contact information for coach Chris Scanlon and sent him an email, inviting him to a tournament at Lehigh.

Once Scanlon did his research, he figured he was going to watch a backup or third string goalie from Calvert Hall, but once he met with Tenant he realized what he was getting and the sixth-year coach was perfectly fine with getting a keeper with no varsity experience.

“There’s a pause and hesitation before you get to spend time with the student-athlete. In the recruiting process I wasn’t really fast to offer a roster spot. You’re going to do due diligence in the process. You’re going to try to get to know him and the family, get some references. … As soon as I was able to communicate with him and the family, for me, it was a no-brainer,” Scanlon, the reigning MAC Commonwealth Coach of the Year, said. “He’s an unbelievable person, a hard worker, someone who was on the same page with where the program was at and where we wanted to go. You could tell at that point there was a chip on his shoulder and, frankly, there was one on mine to try to get Lycoming back where it needs to be and it was going to require the right guys.”

Tenant proved to be the right guy. He’s rewarding Scanlon for having faith in him. Tenant is the third winningest goalkeeper in program history and with two more wins, will have the second most victories despite only starting four games his freshman year. He’s transformed eating habits, hit the weights and has developed into one of, if not the, best goalies in the MAC Commonwealth. He earned all-conference honorable mention honors as a sophomore, was named to the first team last year and is on his way to taking that spot for the second straight year.

It would’ve been easy for Tenant to hang up his lacrosse stick after his junior year of high school, instead, he fought and searched for ulterior solutions. Instead of sulking, he became motivated, got better and is now leading the Warriors in one of their more successful four-year runs in program history.

“I think it’s one of the most viable lessons I could’ve ever been able to learn. You can’t buy success. You can’t buy these kind of achievements. You can’t walk your way into them. You have to earn them and I think about times when I was like, ‘Wow, I’m not playing on my varsity high school team. I’m playing with a bunch of homeschooled kids.’ Not that I was better than them, it just wasn’t the plan or route I imagined for myself when I was a freshman at Calvert Hall,” Tenant said.

“So to see it all come to fruition, when you think about all the moments of self doubt before and during college, am I good enough to do this? Do I want to do this? Can I keep doing this? When you push through and get to this point, what it does most for me, it sets me up for later in life when I feel those moments of doubt later in my career, when I’m going through growing pains in getting older, it will remind me, the purpose of the whole journey is to love it and embrace it.”

“He’s meant a great, great deal. … He’s not just an important part of our lacrosse team but with the campus community. It means a great deal being able to coach someone with his character and his work ethic,” Scanlon said. “… He really exemplifies what it means to be a Warrior.”