Rick and Tracy Ulmer’s house is quiet these days, as all three of their sons are out pursuing their education and career goals. Their youngest, Blake Ulmer, is away completing his high school education at Wilbraham and Monson Academy in Massachusetts, as he prepares for the next step: playing Division 1 lacrosse at Syracuse University, his dream school.
While cleaning out closets one day in her now empty nest, Tracy found a paper Blake had written in middle school called My Future Plans. “In it, he says, ‘My dream is to go to Syracuse and play lacrosse.’ I couldn’t believe what I read,” she said. Contributing to the shock of reading her son’s childhood dreams was the fact that Blake’s dad was recruited by Syracuse in 1979, bringing the Ulmer family’s college lacrosse story full circle.
What seemed like a lofty goal for a middle school student has since become a reality for Blake, as he recently announced his commitment to play lacrosse for famed Head Coach John Desko and his D1 program at Syracuse University.
Blake’s lacrosse career began when he was in the 2nd grade. The youngest of three boys in his family, Blake followed in the footsteps of his big brothers and his dad, who was a goalie in high school and college, and stepped into the cage as a goalie, too.
He played in a league in his hometown of Lake Forest before playing for True Lacrosse and Lake Forest High School. He then headed to the Culver Academies to compete for the #1 high school program in the country, where he was grateful for the opportunity to be coached and mentored by Head Coach Jon Posner.
According to the new NCAA recruiting rules, college coaches can only contact players beginning on September 1st of their junior year. Just a little over a month ago, Blake had a number of D1 schools that were interested in getting him on campus. But when Syracuse called, he immediately booked his trip. And the rest, as they say, is history.
“The minute I stepped on campus, it felt like home to me. Syracuse has a great business school and one of the best lacrosse programs in the country. The athletic facilities and the support for athletes are great,” he said.
Although Blake comes from a long line of lacrosse players, he trained with True to help set him apart from the pack, and clearly the training paid off. “Coach Gabel and Coach Deane were very supportive of me,” he said. “They helped me throughout the entire process. They coached me on how to talk to coaches and what questions to ask. They shaped me into the player I am, and I believe that is why I got the looks I did from college coaches.”
The difference in the way True’s coaches trained as opposed to other club teams, for Blake, was the intensity. “Every practice, they push you to your absolute limit; they train really hard and expect the best out of you.” It was through that training experience that he forged some unbreakable bonds. “I feel like I made some lifelong friendships at True. I play with really good guys and the coaches are awesome.”
Tracy echoed those same sentiments. “We believe the True work ethic was a driving factor in Blake’s motivation to really push himself to be the best, and we think the #1 ranking has a lot to do with True.”
Blake also credits his success with one final important factor: believing in himself. “I believe in all of my hard work,” he said. “I always believed I could do it and nothing was going to stop me. When I was living at home and my mom couldn’t find me, she would look all over the house and eventually find me in the basement doing footwork and playing wall ball on the unfinished basement wall. My hard work became real when I was ranked the #1 2019 Goalie by Inside Lacrosse this August.”
Tracy has proof that dreams do come true with Blake’s middle school paper now among memorabilia of his recruiting success story, and Blake can go confidently in the direction of his dreams, knowing he did everything he could to fulfill his childhood ambition. “Playing at Syracuse has been a lifelong dream, and it will be really cool to step on the field at the Carrier Dome for the first time.”