The Fairview Knights boys lacrosse team was stacked with more than a dozen seniors, all of whom were eager to walk the walk after talking the talk, amongst themselves, that they were going to be a force to be reckoned with in Class 5A.
Brooks Catlin, while confident just the same as his classmates, felt his shift in mentality more so in mastering the calm when it mattered.
As a goalkeeper in such a fast-paced game, it meant a world of difference in 2021 for the University of Vermont signee.
According to coach Matt Kelley, Catlin took to meditation off the field as a way to help his demeanor as the chaos ensued on it. This shortened season, with just 10 regular season games, was a sweet swan song for Catlin, BoCoPreps.com’s boys lacrosse player of the year.
“In past years, I’d struggle more with my mental game in being calm and being consistent,” Catlin said. “This year I really flipped that switch and worked with some things outside of the field (of play) which I think really helped me in those crunch time moments.
“I gained confidence in a team setting, which I think was crucial. Being a senior on the squad, I really felt I had an important role to step into leadership-wise, and the other seniors stepped up in that role as well. That carried our team to some big wins.”
Having not had a winning season in quite some time (they were 8-8 in 2019), the Knights surged to a 10-2 record in 2021 and made the second round of the playoffs after winning the so oddly dubbed Class 5A League #2 at 8-0. Key wins included Monarch, Columbine, Ralston Valley and Mountain Vista — the latter of which came with the Golden Eagles ranked No. 1 in state at the time.
The Knights also claimed a playoff win against a good Kent Denver squad, and Catlin was a steady, sturdy beam in all those victories. For the season, Catlin allowed just 49 goals on 136 shots on goal, his 5.0 goals-against average and .639 save percentage both ranking within the top four of Class 5A keepers per MaxPreps.com.
The postseason accolades rolled up rather quickly. He was first-team all-conference and conference player of the year, first-team all-state (on CHSAANow.com as determined solely by the state’s lacrosse coaches), earned USA Lacrosse Academic All-American honors and also won Colorado’s Robert “Doc” Stabler Award — presented to a “senior who is not only an outstanding lacrosse player but has demonstrated excellence in the academic classroom, displayed leadership abilities, shown school and community involvement over and above the lacrosse field, and is considered to have overall superior personal characteristics.”
In other words, it was a perfect storm of brilliant play and attitude for Catlin. But, he didn’t want to take all the credit.
“I couldn’t have done anything I did without my core D in front of me,” he said. “Harry (Pfeiffer) and Hudson (Bush), I’ve been playing with them since I can remember so we’ve been building our chemistry forever. Sam Millison, a huge factor of the D, a big sophomore player who really showed out and brought the group together.
“Our communication was one of the factors of why we were that good. And, we all wanted to win and wanted to be as good as we could be. Just on the same page in that regard.”
Few were the times where teams were able to crack the FHS defense. Unfortunately, one of those times came in a rematch against Vista, who in the second round of the postseason came from behind to beat the Knights, 9-8. Catlin tied a season-high with 12 saves in that game, too.
The playoff setback was a distant memory by late July, because for Catlin, the overall scope of the season was heavenly.
“I just had a blast,” he said.