PHOTO VIA INSTAGRAM (Bryce Reece)

As a Black lacrosse player, Bryce Reece said he had to work twice as hard to get where he is today.

Blaxers Blog: Working Twice as Hard


Lenoir-Rhyne star midfielder Bryce Reece looks to guide the Division II power toward the program’s first national championship. For this Garden State kid turned all-conference standout, lacrosse is a means of expressing himself while proving a point on one of nation’s highest scoring offenses. 

From his playing style to his gameday swag, Reece enjoys standing out in a fast-paced environment. Buckle up and take notes. We play offense.

BRYCE REECE

Hometown: Mount Laurel, N.J.
Position: Midfield
High School: Lenape
College: Lenoir-Rhyne

Notable Accolades:

  • 2021 All-SAC, first team

PUSHING THE TRANSITION

Long before arriving in the NCAA’s Division II ranks, Reece was mentored by an expert marksman — his father. Tony Reece was a 1983 NJCAA All-American midfielder at SUNY Cobleskill who later played at Cornell under coach Richie Moran’s leadership from 1984-85. Amidst a lacrosse legacy and years of lobbying by his father, Bryce Reece began playing with Mount Laurel’s youth program when he was 12.

“My father was my biggest inspiration for playing and why I want to be successful in the sport,” Reece said. “I continue to play the sport today because of him and others from my hometown who believe in me.”

Tony Reece provided the insight that aided his son’s ascension into the scorer he is today.

“It’s by design that Bryce is an offensive scorer, 100 percent,” Tony Reece said. “He has a gift of speed and quickness that God gave him and I. There are very few defenders who can run with him. Bryce has a better change of direction than I had. I refused to let coaches have my son play defense because I played offense and he’s capable of it, too.”


“He has a gift of speed and quickness that God gave him and I. There are very few defenders who can run with him.”


Through his father’s training, Bryce Reece learned the art of scoring and how to be offensively sound. Tony Reece invested resources in order to convert their family yard into a proper simulation area for his son. The yard consisted of an industrial fishing net draped over several 16-foot aluminum pipes grounded by cement bases. Tony Reece even consulted with landscaping experts on how to invest in the proper field marking material to line the goal to restraining areas.

“I did that so he could get the greatest sense of the distances he needed to shoot from,” Tony Reece said. “He had to learn the velocity needed to be problematic to defenses. I can only take credit for the fundamental blocks I put into the ground. Like Russell Westbrook, he put in the dedicated work and uses a switch that can’t be turned off.”

Bryce Reece would later become a three-sport athlete at Lenape High School as he balanced lacrosse with basketball and track. Before graduating in 2019 as a team captain, Reece joined the lacrosse program’s 100-goal club and earned first-team all-conference honors.

He described his transition to Lenoir-Rhyne as interesting and exciting. Reece knew moving from New Jersey to North Carolina would lead to a culture shock during the pandemic. Thankfully, his coaching staff and teammates helped ease the process. While shadowing the Bears’ upperclassmen, Reece found inspiration in their maturity and composure as team leaders within the past year. Also, Reece chose to wear the No. 15 jersey as a nod to PLL All-Star and Duke great Myles Jones.

“Since I’ve been here, I never felt uncomfortable nor like I chose the wrong school,” Bryce Reece said. “I never felt the need to change myself as I hope to do for our underclassmen as older guys like Noah Johnson, Eric Dickinson and Bowen Collins did for me. They don’t know how much they inspire me as teammates and good friends.”

Finding a balance between academics and athletics was imperative in Reece’s freshman year. He scheduled morning classes to coincide with afternoon practices.

“During my down time inbetween classes, I would lift and practice individually to chill out,” Reece said. “I would get busy on my schoolwork even after practices. Developing a consistent rhythm helped me become more productive as I got used to meeting deadlines during my free time.”








CHAMPIONSHIP EXPECTATIONS

One of the prime reasons Reece chose Lenoir-Rhyne was due to the program’s contender status as a Division II power. During the shortened 2020 season, he experienced the quality of talent shown in the classification. Reece felt grateful to contribute against the likes of Wingate, Belmont Abbey and Adelphi. He was under the irrational assumption that Division II lacrosse couldn’t compete with the ranks of select Division I and III programs.

“It’s a really great feeling knowing that we’re a top program in the tournament while teams at home wish they were in our position,” Reece said. “This gives me more confidence to go win it all. Bringing your best to every game is a must if you wish to win in May. Our caliber is a direct result of the sacrifices and hard work we put in.”

During the 2021 season, Lenoir-Rhyne’s surging offense averaged 18.79 goals per game and finished second in scoring offense. Under coach Greg Paradine’s guidance, the Bears have the nation’s fifth-highest scoring margin (9.14).

“Coach Paradine is the mastermind behind our offensive efficiency,” Reece said. “He understands the game better than anyone I’ve ever met. He knows the strengths of his players and puts them in the best positions to thrive. Having All-American leaders on offense lets us know how fast our tempo should go and push unsettled situations since we have offensive threats who can score.”

Reece has 19 goals on 59 shots to go with nine assists this season. For the first time in his collegiate career, he earned All-SAC honors. The first-team star was joined by SAC Player of the Year Eric Dickinson and six other Bear teammates on the conference roll.

“Winning All-Conference honors was another proud moment of mine,” Reece said. “Being a minority in this sport, I feel as if I must work twice as hard to get the same recognition as others. The assumption around people who look like me is that we like to play long pole or generally defensive-minded players because of our athleticism. Winning this honor as an offensive player was really rewarding because I was finally recognized for my hard work being the player I want to be and not what others thought I should.”




PHOTO COURTESY OF LENOIR-RHYNE ATHLETICS

Lenoir-Rhyne celebrating after capturing the conference championship.


Before earning a top seed in the South Regional bracket, the 13-1 Bears avenged their lone loss to Wingate by clinching the South Atlantic Conference trophy. Reece felt they were bound to win the SAC based on the 2020 hot start that was halted by the pandemic.

“It was surreal winning the SAC, as everyone knew we were capable of beating them,” he said. “The crowd and bench atmosphere was electric, and everything merged into a special moment for us. There’s still more work to do in the NCAA tournament.”

Every program’s goal is to hoist a national championship at the end of the postseason. But what does it take to be a champion?

To Reece, winning a title should entail a program being the best team throughout each tournament game. You must know your opponent’s strengths while being disciplined enough to outscore them. Bench depth is a key factor into dominating periods as starting shifts rest.

“At this point in the season, there are no pushovers in the tournament,” Reece said. “Whoever can execute the best while limiting mistakes will be victorious. Communication and good chemistry is extremely important in winning offensive and defensive battles.”

Lenoir-Rhyne’s next test will happen in Sunday’s NCAA quarterfinal matchup against the Mount Olive-Tampa victor. The program’s previous NCAA appearance ended in a tight 2018 semifinal loss to Saint Leo. Earning the South Region’s top seed wasn’t easy, and the Bears hope to capitalize their postseason fortunes.