12 SEASONS

Duncan McLarty
6/21/20

I'd like to thank Steven Christie for setting up this page. I genuinely believe Naptown Notorious will continue to grow and spread the stories of the incredible athletes produced byIndianapolis. Writing this was one of the hardest things ever, but the memories it brought back, and the closure it came with made it worth it.


Growing up, my parents encouraged and supported me to play every sport I ever wanted. I remember playing soccer, basketball, swimming, football, track, and tennis. It wasn't until I started playing lacrosse that I found my true passion for a game. I loved the physicality of the game, the speed, the IQ, and that you could play uniquely with character. I grew up watching North Central sports and was excited when the time came to compete.


I got to North Central, and the first sport I played was tennis on the freshman team. The North Central Tennis team is unlike any other team I have been a part of. For such a classy, quiet, gentleman's game, NC sure did bring some insane energy. Freshman year, we were given shirts that simply said "Big Bank Take Little Bank," which I think explains the confidence that the team had going into any match. That year I played doubles with my great friend Noah Hirsch. As a team, we won a State Championship, but more importantly, the freshman team did not lose a match all year. Although I had never been amazing at tennis, after this season, I knew I wanted to be a part of this team and family for the next four years.


When winter came around, and it was time for me to decide what sport I wanted to play, I chose to swim for two reasons. My dad swam in college, so I know it would make him happy to see my swim, and I had once swum for the Broad Ripple Swim Team a long time and been pretty good for an Indy Parks swimmer. I was nothing special in the water; I remember bouncing around from JV to Varsity and being the slowest guy who got to swim at varsity meets. In retrospect, it was impossible to feel fast swimming for North Central because this is the same time we had Drew Kibler and so many other talented swimmers who would go on to swim in college. I hated swimming, the only reason I lasted so long was because of the guys I swam with every day. Djimon Gordon, Johnathan Hill, Sam Gilliam, Will Hamilton, and I all trained together. In comparison to the team, I admit that none of us had the most intense work ethic. We were there not only to get better but for fun, and it was pretty easy to tell. None of the coaches were too fond of use but my father always believed in me. I didn't get to swim on our sectional team this year, and I don't remember my times, but they were embarrassing.


Then lacrosse season came around. I knew I wanted to play lacrosse in college. Freshman year, I was good enough to start and be a big contributor to the team. For two years, I had the opportunity to be mentored and play alongside Wes Boland. Wes is a great leader who taught me so much about the sport, being a captain, and so many other things.


I stayed on this same path for my sophomore year. The tennis team won another State Championship with the help of Steven Christie, (For more, CLICK HERE). I also still sucked at swimming. It wasn't until lacrosse season that everything changed.


We were playing Crown Point at home during senior night. Our team is pretty bad, and Crown Point was pretty good. We had just enough players capable of moving the ball that we had a chance to compete against any team. After scoring the first two goals to hold the lead, the whole team was feeling the momentum. At the end of the second quarter, we go a man up and have the chance to go up 3-1 before the second quarter. The ball starts with me; I pass the ball counter-clockwise, anticipating for it to get back to me. While I was off-ball, the defender got confused, and I had an open look at the goal. I call for the ball, and Nick Highsmith throws it, I catch it, take three crow steps, plant my left leg, pull my stick back, aim for the far post, and rip the shot. My body twists over my planted left leg, but my lower leg does not move. I feel and hear a series of pops. When I land, my knee is dislocated and quickly adjusts back into place. I am on the ground screaming in pain; I had never felt anything like it before.


(The video you about to watch is graphic, watch the left knee fold like a pretzel)

 
 

After an inspection by the infamous Dr. Arthur Rettig, he concluded that I had torn my ACL and meniscus. To this day, I can remember the feeling of pain, and it is something that still hasn't left me.


The summer before Junior year, I went through the recovery process. I used this time out to focus on recruiting for lacrosse. I published my highlight real, got invited to a lot of quality showcases, and spoke to many coaches at all levels. I was very excited that coaches still were talking to me after my injury.


Sadly, my junior year tennis season came around only three months after my surgery. I was not cleared to play yet because of the amount of quick lateral movements. I turned in to a regular student not playing a sport for about three weeks before I realized that the kicker on the football team wasn't making some easy kicks. I decided to try out for the team because I knew my knee could handle simply kicking a football. Two weeks after my tryout, I played in my first game against Center Grove, where we lost, and I went two for two. My best friends Cole Maguire (quarterback) and Sam Fisher (Tight end/S back) were both on the team. North Central High School plays all sports in the MAC conference, which for football is ranked in the top 5 for most competitive football in the country. This being said, if you weren't really good it was hard to win games… we weren't really good. The team was 0-24 over the past three seasons when I started playing. It wasn't until the 3rd to last game when we played Pike when that all changed. One day, Cole decided he had enough of losing. He went ahead to score five touchdowns in the game as we secured the win. Being able to win that game on the field with my best friends makes it one of, if not, my favorite sports memory ever.

 
 

Swim season junior year was my best yet. I continued to strengthen my knee and improved enough to be on the sectional team and finish in the top 8. During swim season almost every night, I would be going to either an indoor tennis practice with a well-known Tennis coach PA, or I would be playing indoor lacrosse games. Doing all this extra activity did not allow me to get better at swimming, but I was not worried because playing lacrosse was still my goal.

 
 

Lacrosse season that year was a short-lived season. It was the first time we started a season hot. I was having a fantastic time playing with some of my lifelong friends and winning games. I knew this would be the season that got me a serious college look if I continued to play how I did in the first four games. However, in the fifth game of the year, I got a little too confident trying to take a 40-yard shot after again, Nick fed me the ball. I re-tore my left ACL. My parents should have started sending my medical bills to Nick. Lucky, it was only a ½ tear, so with about four months of recovery, it would be mostly healed. To this day I don't know if my knee is healed fully, but it was better than going through another surgery.

 
 

I spent the summer going into senior year with Sam and Cole. Everyday trying to get better at kicking and throwing them balls. About two weeks before school started, I decided I wasn't satisfied with just not being apart of the tennis team anymore. I tried out for the team the first week of the school year and made varsity for the first time. I was so excited not just to play tennis again but also to be a part of the team for my senior season. I got into a routine of going to tennis practice every day then running over to the football field to kick for the last 10 minutes of practice. One time we had a tennis match and a football game on a Friday, so I faked an injury on the court so I could get up to Carmel in time for kickoff. I've always thought that day was a testament to my ability to compete at two completely different sports simultaneously.

 
 

Senior year was the best football season at NC in the past ten years. Under our new coach, we were starting to win some big games. The team had won three straight games; it was the first time in my life that I could remember where NC had a winning program. It was amazing to be a part of this team with so many talented athletes. In one of the last games against Pike in the 4th quarter, I'm not sure what happened, but coach told me we needed a touchback on this kick. I went out for the kickoff a little nervous because the game was essentially on the line. I ran up to kick it, and it was the furthest I had ever kicked a ball in my life. But, you guessed it, when I landed, I tore my right ACL. I knew immediately what was wrong, which made the pain not as bad. I remember just getting up and walking off the field on my own and telling Sam and Cole that I tore it.

 
 

My surgeon gave me two practical options. 1) have surgery right now, miss swim season and play lacrosse OR, 2) have surgery in the spring, miss lacrosse season, and get to swim. It was at this decision that I chose to give up hope on ever playing lacrosse in college. I swam my senior year. Swimming with no stability in my knee meant I was running, lifting, and running every day with no ACL in my knee, which ended up tearing my meniscus as well. I was wearing a knee sleeve to practice every day, which made the training even harder. Senior year was a good swim year. I got faster in all my events and even got to swim on a relay at placed 8th at state.


Once I was done playing sports in high school, I was incredibly grateful for all the opportunities I had. I got to be a part of 12 unique teams. Each one taught me something new about myself and brought me close to so many teammates. I was focusing on my future. I was the editor of the newspaper and enjoyed the journalism field. The advisor, Tom Gayda, won Journalism Teacher of the Year for the entire country my senior year. Gayda was a Ball State graduate, so when he flew me, Sam Fisher, Cole Maguire, and Joseph Thomas out to New York City to receive his award from Columbia University, multiple Ball State journalism professors and department chairs came along. After attending a dinner and Broadway show with them, the amazing conversations I had with them convinced me that Ball State is where I wanted to go.


Once I was committed to coming to Ball State, I thought, ‘What the hell?’ and sent the swim coach an email asking if I could have a spot on the team in the fall. He said, and I quote, "We are not letting out on the team for the times you have now, but for the times we think you could go." I can't express how grateful I am for the coach to take a chance on me and let me on the team. It took a while to decide if playing a sport in college was the route I wanted to go. One day I brought it up with the late legend, Athletic Director Paul Loggan, and he told me, "Duncan, you're a competitor, it's what you do." After more thought with my parents and best friends, I decided I wasn't done competing yet.


I committed to Ball State for swimming, and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. Shortly after I, committed, the previous head coach retired and the former Purdue sprint coach J Agnew, took over the program.

 
 

Freshman year was the most growth I had ever had in a year in one sport. I realized when I focused on one sport for an entire year, it was much easier to improve. I had a slow regular season, but I had a fantastic championship meet. I placed 12th and 13th in the 100 free and the 50 free at MAC. I even had the chance to anchor three relays. After freshman year, I came in as a sophomore who was supposed to be a reliable/consistent sprinter, but again it took me until the conference meet to find that speed. At MAC my sophomore year, I had an even better season than before. I put up times faster than before and got to swim on another three relays. I now have a MAC third place medal (200 free relay) hanging in my room and a school-record hanging on the wall for a 400-medley relay.

 
 

I am now content with my decision to swim in school, but I could not change anything if I could go back. I think there is a perception now of if you want to play a sport in college, you need to focus on it your whole life. I think the best athletes are versatile enough to play any sport they want.


My story isn't done yet.

 
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