By Jimmy Allinder
Thomas Bahmer was convinced he was destined to play baseball. But after grasping a lacrosse stick, the youngster changed his mind.
Bahmer is now a rising senior and member of the East Brunswick High School lacrosse team, with hopes of playing the sport in college.
“It was all baseball before I was exposed to lacrosse,” Bahmer said. “I was 8 years old when I joined the [East Brunswick] Blackhawks [recreation program], and I discovered I liked lacrosse a lot more.”
From then, Bahmer became fully committed to the physical sport on the club level, which prepared him for high school lacrosse even when he was a freshman. Bahmer’s impact was immediate with 17 goals and eight assists, and he upped his point total as a sophomore by netting 41 goals and assisting on 23 more.
Last spring, Bahmer continued to be one of the Bears’ top attackers with 42 goals and 23 more assists.
Bahmer said the focus of his game is looking for opportunities to score when he’s close to the goal.
“I like to feed my teammates from my X position, which is behind the net,” he said. “From there, I can clearly see where I should deliver the ball to my teammates who are open.”
That reliance on teammates, and vice versa, is what Bahmer enjoys most about lacrosse.
“When I first played lacrosse, I depended on my own abilities,” he said. “Then I learned to trust where my teammates will be, and that’s made me a more complete player.”
Bahmer has enhanced his skills by playing during the offseason with the Jersey Thunder Elite, a club team located in Montvale.
“We play a lot of tournaments in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Maryland,” he said. “They are usually two-day showcases for college scouts that watch us play against teams from around the country. It’s not unusual for us to play between two and five games a day.”
Bahmer’s constant activity year-round enables him to be in excellent condition, but he still goes to a gym and lifts daily. Thomas also runs 3-plus miles three or four times a week and performs a workout called Speed Latter, which includes shooting, throwing and catching lacrosse balls against a wall to hone his scoring skills.
The whirlwind of year-round activity could hamper an average student’s ability to keep up with schoolwork, but Bahmer is an above-average student. His grade-point average is 3.4, and balancing school and athletics has never been a problem.
“I’ve played sports my entire life, and I learned early on I need to prioritize my time in order to get schoolwork done,” he said. “I admit when I entered high school that became harder, but I adapted and it eventually it became easier.”
Bahmer said his high school coach, Rory Murray, made sure his players were students first and athletes second and insisted everyone stuck to a schedule of getting homework done after practice and games.
Bahmer said he has been in contact with a handful of NCAA Division III schools, including his current favorite, Albright College in Reading, Pennsylvania, with an eye toward majoring in business or accounting.
In addition to his family — father, Thomas, mother, Christine, and brother, Michael — Bahmer has received support from friends he became close to in youth lacrosse. Mike Thomas, who teamed with Bahmer on attack for the Bears last season, and Jimmy Farrell, a defenseman at Rutgers Preparatory School, remain friends. His East Brunswick teammates and coach Murray have also played a major role in his development.
“I honestly believe I wouldn’t be where I am with this sport if it wasn’t for my family, my friends and my coach” he said. “I consider them family.”
The moment that stands out in Bahmer’s lacrosse career occurred last spring when he notched his 100th goal.
“It was a great moment,” he said. “It happened during our last home game against Howell [High School] when I scored five goals, which our team won in double overtime. That day validated the hard work I put into lacrosse and made me realize it all paid off.”
Bahmer hopes there are more dividends to collect playing the sport he loves.