High School Sports

Pair is prepared for new college games

In South Carolina, ask your doctor where he played Division I college football. Or ask your lawyer which Northeastern lacrosse power he plied his talents at. Odds are, you'll just get blank stares.

Now fast forward 10 or so years. If your doctor is Ryan Lee and your lawyer is Adam Mandell, these become perfectly reasonable questions.

Seniors at Heathwood Hall Episcopal School, Lee and Mandell are poised to make a splash in college sports. Lee heads to Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. Mandell will attend Boston's Tufts University. Each sees sports as taking up only half their time over the next four years.

Lee has been a force on offense and defense for the Heathwood football team, earning a host of athletic accolades along with way, including SCISA all-state honors his senior year. Yet the 6-foot-6, 245-pound lineman has kept academics a high priority, making the honor roll on a heavy load of advanced-placement classes.

"I definitely try to keep a good balance," Lee said. "I think that's important."

It's critical to Dartmouth, too. Assistant coach Lance Clelland, who recruits in South Carolina, said Lee easily met the college's rigorous scholastic standards.

"We put a tremendous amount of importance on academics — the most," Clelland said. "(Lee) is the very top kind of kid that we look for."

Not that Lee doesn't make the grade as an athlete. "There's not that many big kids who can move, and he certainly has that ability tenfold. He can run, he can do all the things you want him to do ... as an offensive lineman," Clelland said.

For Mandell, it was his scholarly ambitions, more than athletics, that led him to Tufts. Mandell takes six AP classes and was a member of Heathwood's state champion math team.

"I knew I could play lacrosse in college but it was more important to pick the right school first," said Mandell, the reigning South Carolina Lacrosse League player of the year. He praises Tufts coach Michael Daly, whom he met at a recruiting camp last summer, for having "the same feelings that I do about being a student-athlete."

Heathwood lacrosse coach Paul Baly said brains, as much as raw talent made Mandell a standout. According to Baly, Mandell's ability to make smart plays, take care of the little things and be a leader on the field reflects his "incredible athletic IQ."

Heathwood Hall’s lacrosse team advanced to the semifinals last week before losing to Greenville.

Both athletes say conference championships and improving their game are high priorities, but so is the future. Lee has his eye on medical school; Mandell, the legal profession.

Lee knows he'll have to balance football with a stringent academic program. "That's the kind of challenge I want," he said.

Mandell said, "I think it'll be a great opportunity for both lacrosse (and) to set myself up for the law field."

Heathwood athletics director Jeff Whalen said Lee and Mandell "embody what we're doing at Heathwood," Whalen said. "Academics come first."

Whalen believes Lee and Mandell are primed for success at the next level. "I think both of them will do very, very well."