THURSDAY, APRIL 05, 2012
High-flying Waffle knows all about the dog house
Photo by Eddie Gard
Photo by Eddie Gard
ari. Arrii. ARRRRIIIIII#!#!!#!

For a guy who has started his collegiate lacrosse career as Ari Waffle has, he sure has spent a lot of time in coach Guy Van Arsdale’s doghouse.

Waffle, a freshman attacker from Manlius, N.Y., is the second leading freshman goal scorer in the country with 21 goals (behind Colgate’s Ryan Walsh and his 24); the leading goal scorer and second leading point getter on the JU team; set a school-record for goals in a game with eight; is a Cascade National Rookie of the Week and a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Rookie of the Week.

Yet, Waffle has spent plenty of time getting yelled at since the season began although time in the dog house seems to be diminishing of late.

“The reason Ari gets in the dog house is because sometimes he has a bit of the dog in him,’’ Van Arsdale said. “He can be a very, very good college attack man and he shows flashes of that. He seems to respond when he’s pushed and he handles it great.’’

Waffle, who is as laid back and quiet as an athlete dare to be, says he understands why he gets in hot water and mostly doesn’t mind and admits to having lapses at times.

“I don’t mind,’’ he said. “(Van Arsdale) expects a lot out of me and sometimes I don’t really give the effort I should. He knows I can be a better player than I am.’’

Having said that, let it be known that Van Arsdale isn’t on Waffle nearly as much as he was and, in fact, see substantial change.

“He’s done a lot of growing up in the last couple of months and that’s reflected off the field as well as on the field,’’ Van Arsdale said. “I’m very proud of how he has done that. I think he’s just scratching the surface of the player he can be here.’’

“I’ve grown a lot as a lacrosse player,’’ Waffle said. “I’ve been watching (captain) Cam (Mann) and older players and I’ve gotten comfortable where I was and who I was playing with and found my game. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I got here. I expected to come here, work my way on the field and see how played out.’’

Waffle’s career actually began somewhere around first grade. After being born in Paraguay, his parents, Ed and Vivian, moved back home to New York before he was one.

He made plenty of friends with area Native American kids and lacrosse, being a game of the Native Americans, was a fit for his new-found friends and then for him.

To this day he remains in contact with some of them and has such an affinity for the tribes always, always, wears a purple t-shirt honoring the Iroquois Confederacy which is made up of six tribes, the Tuscarora, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca, which live in Canada and New York in the Lake Ontario areas.

Waffle has a particularly strong connection with the Onondaga tribe.

When the lacrosse sticks were put down at the end of spring, the Waffle family would vacation yearly in Fort Lauderdale and Ari knew early on Florida would be a place for him. JU lacrosse sealed the deal.

“I thought it would be the perfect place to be,’’ he said.

Thus far, for the most part, it has been pretty perfect … except, of course, for the early excursions to Van Arsdale’s Dog House.

“He’s grown in a lot of ways,’’ Van Arsdale said. “He has shown the ability to persevere and prevail and that’s a real credit to him. Those are things that aren’t necessarily learned by individuals, in my opinion, but more revealed and kids find out they have that ability and I think Ari’s finding out.’’

For Van Arsdale, that revealing is one of the perks of the job.

“When you see something they don’t see and you realize they are starting to see it, whether it’s by dumb luck or whether you have a plan to help them get there, it’s a wonderful thing,’’ he said. “It’s one of those things that happens by being part of a team and participating in competitive athletics at this level, that’s some of the lessons that can happen if kids are open to it.’’

Waffle, according to his coach, is one of those kids. Van Arsdale also has no issues with the attack man’s laid back demeanor.

“He loves to win, loves to compete, you can see that,’’ Van Arsdale said. “His personality is that he tends to keep things in a little bit. He’s never going to be a rah-rah, yell and scream, jump around kind of guy but he’s excited to play and has a passion for the game. It’s so important to him. If you take that away from Ari, he’d be very upset.’’

The JU men play host to Canisius Saturday at 1 p.m. at D.B. Milne Field. The game can be seen on asun.tv.

- Jim Nasella