Jimmy Sbarra has lacrosse in his blood — literally. The son of Bill Sbarra — a former University of Maryland All-American (1967) who was inducted into the Long Island Lacrosse Hall of Fame in the class of 1997 — Jimmy "Had big shoes to fill," he said. "I never tried to fill them. I looked at him as role model."
After playing four years at Langley High School in which he recorded 120 points, Jimmy, who helped Langley to three Liberty District lacrosse titles en route to all-district selections in his junior and senior seasons, followed in his father's footsteps and played his college lacrosse at Maryland.
"I always had my heart set on Maryland," said Sbarra, who was also an all-region selection and Langley's Most Valuable Player in his senior year (1999). He was also recruited by Navy and Towson.
Why was his heart set on Maryland?
"Being that I played at Maryland, when they were young, I would take them to the Maryland games all the time," said Bill, who would also occasionally whip out old film of the 1967 North and South All-Star game in which he scored a goal — while playing defense. "[Jimmy's] junior high and high school years, the NCAA had the Final Four at Maryland it seemed like every year."
Sbarra, like his father, fell in love with the sport.
"When you take them to see that kind of level of play," said Bill of his two sons Jimmy and B.J. "They fell in love with the game and motivated themselves."
SBARRA AND the Saxons won three consecutive district titles (1997, 1998, 1999), but could never break through in the region title game. The Saxons dropped a 10-9 decision to eventual state champion Robinson (16-1-1) in Sbarra's junior year, bringing the total number of Langley regional final losses to five in the tournament's 10-year history. Sbarra helped Langley to a 15-2 record as a junior and catapulted the Saxons through a 13-game winning streak.
"Basically, back then there were two main camps to go to. Now there are hundreds of them. If you went to these camps you got a good chance to get picked up by a smaller Div. 3 school at least," said Sbarra, of his recruitment to Maryland.
He continued his lacrosse career at the University of Maryland where he admittedly struggled.
"Being the kid from Northern Virginia, playing lacrosse is much different than Baltimore or Long Island," said Sbarra, who appeared in a total of only three games in his freshman year and a total of 15 before his senior year in which he played 14 games for the Terrapins.
He left Maryland having recorded a 45.5 face-off percentage and emerged as a key face-off man for the Terrapins as a senior.
"I wasn't ready. I had a new education of what lacrosse was when I went to Maryland. I had to relearn this game that I thought I knew," said Jimmy.
SBARRA WAS recently hired as Potomac School's lacrosse coach. He helped the Panthers to the lacrosse programs first Tilt (The Invitational Lacrosse Tournament) appearance in 10 years. Sbarra also runs "Be the Best" lacrosse camps in Northern Virginia — camps aimed at preparing youth lacrosse players for the next level. By teaching the game to young players in the Great Falls area, Sbarra, is again following in his father's footsteps. Bill was a founding member of Great Falls Youth Lacrosse (founded in 1995).
"Back when I was growing up, there were six youth teams, now there is about 60," said Jim.
Jimmy Sbarra is 97 in a survey of the area's Top 100 Athletes by Connection Newspapers in 2000.