Ask Bishop Timon-St. Jude lacrosse coach Mike Burke about Adam DiMillo, and this is what you get:
“He’s team-oriented, unselfish, willing to play whatever role that you need for the team to succeed, doesn’t care about individual stats. He probably scored more goals freshman year than senior – not because he couldn’t, but because he’s more concerned about getting everyone involved in the game.
“If it’s playing defense more than just offense, if it’s faceoffs, he does it. He just cares about how the team does. It’s not every day you see a kid at his age with that maturity level.”
And it’s not every day you see a player with his talent level. Burke has seen it for four years at Timon, as DiMillo earned second-team All-Western New York honors as a freshman and then was honored for three straight years as both a US Lacrosse All-American and an All-WNY first-teamer. During that time, the Tigers won four straight Monsignor Martin championships, two state titles and attained national poll consideration throughout his terrific senior season.
For his exceptional all-around talents, which have earned him a scholarship to the University of Maryland, DiMillo is this year’s Tom Borrelli Memorial Award winner as Western New York’s top senior boys lacrosse player. He will be honored at tonight’s Borrelli Awards banquet at Ilio DiPaolo’s.
“He’s not vocal, he’s a very quiet kid, very reserved,” said Burke. “But he plays much louder.”
Certain opponents know how the volume of DiMillo’s play could get cranked up – after they tried to literally knock him off his game.
“It’s like, don’t poke the bear,” said Burke. “Don’t run him, don’t talk trash to him, because if you really tick him off ... There was a time this season where a team ran him – then he scored nine goals.”
DiMillo has always had that scoring ability – he scored 65 goals as a freshman, 62 as a sophomore, 46 last year and 55 this year – but he helped set the tone for his team by setting up his teammates as his career went on.
“We just wanted to compete for our school, to try and compete with all of the guys who have gone through Timon,” said DiMillo. “We wanted to bring a state championship to our school. We wanted to win together and be something bigger than ourselves.”
In a clear two-player race for the Borrelli Award, DiMillo was chosen over his teammate and fellow Under Armour All-American Connor Fields.
Fields, who is headed to Albany, was named The News Prep Talk Player of the Year for boys lacrosse, as well as boys hockey, which led to him being named the overall Prep Talk Male Athlete of the Year.
While Fields was honored for his staggering scoring numbers, including 100-plus goal totals that have been among the nation’s very best the last two years, DiMillo is being recognized for the same level of excellence in the midfield. Opposing coaches feared DiMillo’s playmaking as much as the Fields’ finishing.
“He can play any position on the field at a high level,” Burke said of DiMillo, who was also a second-team All-WNY football selection as a junior. “He can play longpole. It’s just unbelievable how great of a kid he is.”
DiMillo and Fields are among just 44 selected for the Under Armour All-America game July 12 in Baltimore.
Soon after, DiMillo will become part of one of the nation’s top programs at Maryland, where he committed prior to his sophomore season.
“It really is an unreal feeling,” said DiMillo. “Growing up, I always wanted to play at the highest level. … Every day I’m working out to go play at the next level, because everyone is an All-American in Division I.”
Borrelli, a News sports reporter and editor, died Nov. 20, 2008 of injuries suffered less than two weeks earlier when he fell down the press box stairway at All High Stadium while covering a high school football game. As a tribute to Borrelli and the sport he loved, a committee led by News’ Bob DiCesare established the Tom Borrelli Memorial Award and Scholarship Fund.
This is the sixth year of the Borrelli Award. DiMillo joins fellow Timon winners Chris Kane (2010) and Brian Sullivan (2011); other winners were Jeff Tundo of Orchard Park (2009), Josh Babcock of Hamburg (2012) and Zed Williams of Silver Creek (2013).
For the third year, the Borrelli committee also bestowed the “Ox” Award, which goes to a senior who displays the talent, versatility, hard work, dedication and toughness shown by Borrelli – whose nickname was “Ox” – in his work as a reporter and editor at The News.
The inaugural winner was Amherst’s Nate Gowen, who went to Rutgers. Last year’s “Ox” went to Hamburg’s Max Maxwell, who had 15 goals and 26 assists this year for Maryland-Baltimore County.
This year’s “Ox” Award goes to Bishop Timon-St. Jude’s Brandon Donohue. Donohue, who will play at Division II Lake Erie College, was a second-team All-Monsignor Martin selection for his tenacious play as a shortstick defensive midfielder. “It’s a tough position, but he could dominate the game there,” said Burke.
Award winners are selected by the Borrelli committee after consultation with local scouts and coaches.
The girls awards were announced Tuesday: Lancaster’s Allie Stewart won the Borrelli Award; teammate Rachel Heidenreich won the “Ox.”
Prior to this year, the Borrelli and “Ox” Awards had never been awarded to players from the same school.
To donate, send a check payable to the Tom Borrelli Memorial Fund, c/o Bob DiCesare, Buffalo News Sports, P.O. Box 100, Buffalo, 14240.