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Connor Cannizzaro Denver Pioneers lacrosse 2017 Photo Courtesy of Denver Athletics

Behind Bars with Connor Cannizzaro

Upstate New York is known for producing incredible lacrosse players, Connor Cannizzaro is another addition to the long list. He has been blazing a trail in Denver with the Pioneers and is expected to keep leaving his mark on the game.

Cannizzaro was a Tewaaraton finalist in 2016 and a nominee in 2015. He’s a two year reigning All-American among many other incredible accolades. This week, I go Behind Bars to talk with Cannizzaro about growing up in an athletic family, winning the National Championship, and his brother Sean, among many other topics!

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Luke Hitchcock (LH): I’m gonna start with the question that’s on all lacrosse fans’ minds, what is it going to take for Denver to get back to the finals on Memorial Day?

Connor Cannizzaro (CC): That’s a good question, we’ve been working a lot on our team chemistry and finding our signature. Really figuring out who we are as a team. We’re focused on finding out who this Denver team is. When we do that I think we’ll have something special.

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LH: Competitiveness is just a part of you, right? You come from an athletic family; your brother Chris playing hockey at Hobart, sister Kara winning a lacrosse National Title at North Carolina, and older brother Sean also playing lacrosse at Denver. I can only imagine there were some healthy competitions when you guys were growing up playing sports?
Photo courtesy of @SeanCanz44/ Twitter

CC: Oh yeah, for sure. In almost everything we did, whether Wiffle Ball, sprints, seeing who’s fastest. It was always a competition. Especially between Sean and I. It was really fun growing up in that household.

LH: You were a stud hockey defenseman in high school, was there ever any thought of playing hockey in college?

CC: I don’t think I could have made the jump from high school to college, so it was never a thought in my mind. When I was younger I wanted to play in the NHL but I have now fell in love with lacrosse and can’t wait to see where it takes me.

LH: You made a big splash in the lacrosse world as you won the ACC Freshman of the Year with Maryland and then went on to transfer to join Sean at Denver. Can you talk a little about your transition from Maryland to Denver?

CC: Freshman yearm I didn’t feel like Maryland was the right fit for me as a person.

I explored my options and fell in love with Denver, it’s been a great transition and I couldn’t ask for anything more.

LH: After Denver’s recent success, the Pios have become one of the hottest teams in college lacrosse. How do the guys deal with that pressure inside the locker room?

CC: I think the biggest thing is believing in ourselves. When we do that, it keeps us calm. No matter what happens, we can pull it together and make a push.

That’s what we’re always working on and that’s our end goal. We want to be the last ones standing.

Connor Cannizzaro Denver Pioneers lacrosse 2017 Photo Courtesy of Denver Athletics
Photo Courtesy of Denver Athletics
LH: You’ve got one ring already, earned with your brother. What was it like playing with Sean at Denver?

CC: It brought me back to the high school days and it was really special. Getting a year with him in college was incredible and something I’ll never forget.

Ending his career with a National Championship was really special. 

LH: But another one would be even better, I’m sure. Where do you see your lacrosse career going after Denver?

CC: I haven’t thought about that much. I’m just focused on my senior year and winning the National Championship. Wherever the game takes me, I’ll be happy.

LH: Coach Tierney is arguably on of the greatest college lacrosse coaches of all-time. What is the number one thing you have learned from him in your time at Denver?

CC: I’ve learned a lot from him. He’s legendary and amazing to play for. The biggest thing is to be calm and not to get to high on your highs and low on your lows. Lacrosse is all about ups and downs.

LH: Let’s mix it up. Lightening round. If you could only watch one TV show for the rest of your life, what would it be?

CC: New Girl

LH: What’s your #1 song in rotation at the moment?

CC: I’d have to go with Shooting Stars – Bag Raiders

LH: You were a stud hockey defenseman in high school, was there ever any thought of playing hockey in college?

CC: I don’t think I could have made the jump from high school to college, so it was never a thought in my mind. When I was younger I wanted to play in the NHL but I have now fell in love with lacrosse and can’t wait to see where it takes me.

LH: Who is your favorite guy to play against?

CC: My teammate Christian Burgdorf. He’s one of the best defensemen I’ve ever seen. 

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A huge thank you to Connor Cannizzaro for taking the time to talk to us. Make sure to follow along with Denver as they make a push to win the National Title for their second national title in three years!

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