The Midland-Dow cooperative boys' lacrosse team followed an historic season by earning some equally historic individual and team accolades recently.
Chase Mahabir, a Midland High senior and the lacrosse team's co-captain, earned both All-America and Academic All-America honors from the Michigan High School Lacrosse Coaches Association, making him the first player from Midland ever to earn either of those distinctions. Mahabir, who was featured on ESPN's Top Lacrosse Plays following a spectacular goal this past spring, also set a team record with 66 goals during his senior campaign.
"Chase is one of the hardest-working athletes I have had the pleasure to coach," Midland-Dow coach Joe Stadelmaier said of Mahabir, who will play collegiately at the University of Detroit Mercy. "I have had the privilege to be his coach in youth lacrosse, as well as in high school, and I have seen him develop into one of the best midfielders in the state of Michigan. ... He is always a threat to score anytime he is on the field.
"Being named All-America academically and athletically is an amazing accomplishment," Stadelmaier added. "I am proud to be part of his high school experience."
Mahabir said he was at a "total loss for words" when he found out about the awards from his coach.
"It just came out of the blue. I was not expecting that at all," he noted. "It's a complete blessing. The first thing I did after I found out was to call my parents, because I was so excited and proud to tell them."
Having not begun playing lacrosse until his seventh grade year, Mahabir said he caught on quickly and grew by leaps and bounds over the past few years.
"In the beginning, I found lacrosse to be the right mix of contact and running that I needed. In seventh grade, I was not the most athletic or the quickest kid, and for football I needed to get into better shape and increase my athleticism more than baseball was doing for me," he said.
"I picked up the game relatively quickly, and, being a player who stood out, I fell in love with it really quickly," he added. "I enjoyed the ability to play a different kind of contact sport with different strategies. The uniqueness of lacrosse compared with the other sports I'd been playing made the game so much fun."
Mahabir, who was also an All-State football player for the Chemics, said he expected to have a big senior season.
"I think over the course of the COVID break, I grew the most as a player. I took that time off to really grow and become the player I am today," he said. "It was time to show the improvements I'd made, and this season was a chance to show what I was capable of doing.
" ... I have to say it wouldn't have happened without a lot of help from my teammates. They were always pushing me, and they knew what had to happen for us to succeed," he added. "As a senior, I had to take that leadership role, the pieces all came together, and all the work paid off. I couldn't have asked for a better way to showcase (that hard work)."
Mahabir noted that helping Midland-Dow win a first-ever regional championship was particularly rewarding after having had his junior season canceled due to the pandemic and after the team got off to a bit of a slow start against stiff competition this spring.
"The other two years, we made it to the regional final and fell short. To win it in my senior year and with this group of guys I've played with my whole career was so awesome, especially with the start we had and having to overcome adversity. That showed how good our team really was," he said. "The competition we saw this year was a lot tougher than it was during my freshman and sophomore years."
Asked whether he likes football or lacrosse better, Mahabir admitted that it is hard to choose.
"I've played football from a young age, and my love for football will always be there, and you can never take that away," he said. "But the new spark and love for lacrosse is growing and growing and growing as I continue to improve as a player. I love both the same, and I'm just fortunate to be able to play one in college.
Speaking of which, Mahabir will be following in his parents' footsteps, as both his mother and father were NCAA Division I athletes. His father Jai played football and ran track at Central Michigan University, while his mother Elaine played basketball for two years at Saginaw Valley State University and one year at CMU.
"From a young age, it's always been a goal to follow both of my parents' legacy and be successful at the college level," he noted. "It's something that was expected. It's not a dream; it's something I've been creating into a reality.
"I'm excited to be able to experience all of the things they've talked about and to live it for myself," he added.
Meanwhile, Stadelmaier was named Division 1 Coach of the Year after guiding his team to a first-ever regional championship and state quarterfinal berth.
"I am honored to be recognized for this award. I am proud of the hard work the boys put in this year and how we improved as the season progressed," he said. "This is a community award, because it does not happen without the hard work of all the coaches, players, and parents who contributed to Midland lacrosse over the past several years."
Junior co-captain Ryan Stadelmaier was named Second Team All-State after an incredible season in which he set a state record with 16 assists in a game, set a team single-season record with 116 points (48 goals, 68 assists), and led the team in ground balls with 72.
Senior goalkeeper and co-captain Jack Erickson, who will go on to play at Albion College, was named Third Team All-State after making a team-record 216 saves.
Senior defensemen Zach Wilder and Alex Glackin -- who will play at Concordia University-Wisconsin and Otterbein University, respectively -- anchored a Midland-Dow defense which set a Saginaw Valley League record for fewest goals allowed in a season, giving up only 10 tallies in seven league games.
Meanwhile, as a team, Midland-Dow earned the Division 1 Academic Team Award for having the highest cumulative grade-point average in the state.