If you wanted to use a football analogy, you could say Zach LaPolice unwittingly ran the wrong route and still ended up scoring a touchdown. Good things, you will recall, happened whenever LaPolice got the ball in his hands as a receiver for New Canaan.
In simpler terms, for LaPolice, hard work paid off and he was rewarded. As a senior for the Rams he had seven offers to choose from, including four Division I schools.
LaPolice thought there were better opportunities still out there and ultimately made a calculated choice to get the chance that all elite athletes seek: to challenge themselves at the highest level possible.
So LaPolice decided to take a postgrad year at Choate to enhance his marketability.
“I thought having that extra year to play football would have been extremely impactful,” LaPolice said. “As good as my senior season was, and then putting up better numbers, that’s what I wanted to prove.”
Of course, LaPolice didn’t get that extra year as football seasons were canceled throughout the state. It appeared a pre-pandemic decision could have put him in a disadvantageous situation.
But colleges were able to give LaPolice’s highlights with New Canaan a second look. They saw a receiver who averaged nearly 17 yards on his 56 receptions, with 12 touchdowns. Two schools in particular, after filling last year’s recruiting class, still had openings as his position.
And that is how LaPolice realized his dream of playing Ivy League football, giving a verbal commitment in September to Cornell.
“It’s something extremely special,” LaPolice said. “To be able to have that insane education and a great, great football program, be part of the Ivy League.”
LaPolice will be signing his National Letter of Intent tomorrow night at 7, doing it live on Instagram.
LaPolice chose Cornell over Colgate. There was some minor contact with both schools while he was at New Canaan but nothing that became serious at the time. LaPolice visited the two campuses in the summer and made a strong impression with Cornell coach David Archer.
“When I announced I was PG-ing in the early stages of the year it was extremely hectic because I was having another go-round at the recruiting process,” LaPolice said. “When I got to Choate I realized there wasn’t going to be an opportunity to get film out and my mind needed to be made up when I got there. I knew my top two schools were Cornell and Colgate.”
LaPolice will be continuing a family tradition. His older brother, Alex, starred for the Rams and went on to play at Harvard. Interestingly and tellingly, Zach chose to wear the same No. 7 as his brother at New Canaan. Now he too is headed to the Ivy League.
LaPolice admitted if he had a crystal ball he would have opted for one of the offers he had while at New Canaan.
“Most definitely,” LaPolice said. “It was definitely the Division I dream. I wasn’t satisfied last year and also a lot of the Ivy Leagues did pass up on me, which I felt cheated on, and wanted to prove myself and make sure they knew that I put in work and deserved it. I was striving for the Ivies and more Division I opportunities.”
LaPolice received them. Next step Cornell, and the chance to continue to do good things with the ball while taking advantage of an opportunity he did indeed work for.
“I’m in an incredible position,” LaPolice said. “I’m very blessed and I would have told you there was no way without a football season I’m getting more Division I offers. I would have said no way.”
This story has been updated with the change to sign the letter of intent tomorrow.