At 5-foot-7, B.J. Grill is not one of the biggest members of the Marquette men’s lacrosse team, but what separates the freshman defender from everyone else is the determination he possesses to make himself stand out among giants.
Hailing from Bridgewater, N.J., it’s no surprise that Grill started playing lacrosse at a young age given the sport’s popularity on the East Coast. Shortly after third grade, Grill started playing after receiving an invitation in the mail to participate in a youth lacrosse program.
“I told myself that I liked contact sports and previously played football, so I wanted to try something new,” Grill said.
Grill would move on to join the varsity squad at Bridgewater High School for four years. As a senior All-American, he led his team to a state championship and a No. 16 finish in the national rankings. Wearing the No. 8 on his back as a senior made Grill stand out even more to the people of Bridgewater.
Every year a senior is selected to wear the No. 8 in memory of former Bridgewater lacrosse player Michael Bruce. Bruce was a highly touted recruit who was paralyzed from the neck down in a car accident while on his way to taking an SAT exam in 1988. Bruce passed away in 2000.
Grill was selected by his teammates and coaches to carry on Bruce’s memory by wearing his number on the field. His hope is that he can continue to wear that number at Marquette.
“If I have the opportunity to wear the No. 8 at Marquette for all four years, I would absolutely do it,” Grill said. “I want to illustrate the number to the upperclassmen, and I’m going to tell the story to anyone who wears that jersey on this team.”
Grill has not only been impressing upperclassmen with his determination, but coach Joe Amplo has also taken notice of his intensity. The characteristics that stood out to the coaching staff during Grill’s recruiting are what Amplo wants to instill in his team’s first year.
“Every minute of every day, there isn’t a second that (Grill) wavers from emulating the characteristics of leadership, hard work, edginess and something to prove,” Amplo said.
Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow is Grill’s favorite athlete, and fellow freshman midfielder Greg Willey thinks the comparison between the two could not be more proper.
“Tim Tebow always has the will to win for his team. Once we start playing games, I can definitely see (Grill) filling that role and stepping up as a leader,” Willey said. “From the first week that we met him, the whole team realized he was one of the hardest-working members of the team.”
Grill’s size may be the only weakness in his game, but it provides him an opportunity to approach the game from a different angle against bigger college athletes. Amplo believes that the athleticism is there for Grill to become an elite player.
“If (Grill) was five inches taller, he’d be one of the top recruits coming out of high school. He’s that athletic,” Amplo said. “You can’t measure the size of his heart, and that’s only going to help him and the team as we start to build this program.”
Top songs on your iPod: Being from New Jersey, I listen to a lot of techno music. I’d say Avicii’s “Levels” followed by his “Fade into Darkness (Alvin Meyers Remix).” Outside of techno I listen to a lot of Jack Johnson, so “Sleep Through the Static.”
People that inspire you: My high school coach, my whole family and Tim Tebow.
Bucket list: 1) Go to a FIFA World Cup game 2) Be able to speak Arabic in an Arabic setting 3) Go to the Great Wall of China.
Pre-game Rituals or superstitions: I don’t like talking to many people before I play. I like listening to music a lot and usually put one song on repeat that fits the game. Also, I always tie my right shoe first.
Last movie to make you cry: The Natural. The part when he talks about his love of baseball after injuries just gets me.
Celebrity Lookalike: Charlie Day from “Always Sunny in Philadelphia”
Favorite Teams to Root For: I’m all Philadelphia sports.
Celebrity Dream Date: Natalie Portman. I like the Harvard girl.
Advice for Aspiring Athletes: If people doubt you, just keep going. Keep working hard. Don’t ever settle.