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Madison and Todd Rassas

Weekly Cover: The Family Game

Roy Colsey, Spencer Ford, Jenny Levy and Todd Rassas are celebrities in the lacrosse world. But even they gush when one of their kids does something special on the field. It’s that parental pride no amount of fame can prepare you to feel.

High school seniors Kyle Colsey, Spencer Ford Jr., Kate Levy and Madison Rassas (pictured above with her father in 2006 and 2022) are among the best players in the country — all headed to prominent NCAA Division I programs as nationally ranked recruits.

We asked them what it’s like to have lacrosse luminaries for parents. And we asked their parents why these four might be headed for similar stardom in the sport.

McDonogh girls' lacrosse player Kate Levy
The daughter of North Carolina and former U.S. Women's National Team coach Jenny Levy, Kate Levy started in boys' lacrosse before acclimating ot the girls' game and attending McDonogh (Md.).
John Strohsacker

Pay Attention

By Beth Ann Mayer

Kate Levy had a stick in her hand as soon as she could walk. As soon as she could talk, she made one thing clear. “She was very definitive, ‘I want to be one of Mommy’s girls,’” said Jenny Levy, the North Carolina and former U.S. Women’s National Team head coach.

That title will take on a different meaning when Kate Levy steps onto the Chapel Hill campus as a freshman and No. 4 recruit in the class of 2024, according to Inside Lacrosse. She’ll join her two older brothers, Alec and Ryan, who play for UNC’s men’s team. Ditto for her dad, Dan, though he and Jenny did not meet in Chapel Hill.

But perhaps the most famous Levy currently at UNC is Jenny. As she built the Tar Heels into a perennial national championship contender, Kate quite literally came along for the ride — though she wasn’t attached to Mom’s coattails.

“By the time she was about 4, I wouldn’t see her the whole bus ride,” Jenny Levy said, laughing. “She’d go hang out with the girls in the back.”

Kate Levy always picked a favorite player to idolize and pal around with, but her relationship with midfielder Kara Cannizzaro continues to stand out (and evolve) today.

“She's had great energy on the field and was always super engaging with me when I was little,” she said. “Even now, she works for the university [as the director of development and operations], and I get to see her all the time.”

Cannizzaro may have welcomed Kate with open arms. The Levy brothers? Well, that’s a different story.

“We had great battles in our kitchen,” Jenny Levy said. “We had a mini net against our fridge. There were times when she didn't always get included, which caused a lot of friction in the household.”

Sometimes, the trio took it outside.

“Kate would like come after them with a garden shovel,” Jenny Levy said. “Like, ‘Pay attention to me.’”


Kate and Jenny Levy through the years

It’s become hard to ignore Kate Levy. She started playing boys’ lacrosse because of a lack of girls’ opportunities in Carolina.

“She knew the rules but never played by the rules,” Jenny Levy said.

Kate Levy began competing with M&D Black, a club team in Maryland. She transferred to McDonogh for her junior year, where she now stars for the legendary lacrosse program. She participated in the USA Lacrosse National Team Development Program U16 Combine in 2021 and plays for the U.S. Women’s U20 Training Team — another tie to Mom, who coached the senior team to a world title on home soil in 2022.

“I don’t think any of us knew how well she would do,” Jenny Levy said. “It’s really fun to see her in such a high arena.”

Kate Levy’s commitment to North Carolina wasn’t a surprise — it was a foregone conclusion. There wasn’t family pressure. Rather, it fulfilled a lifelong dream she wanted for herself.

Still, Jenny Levy went by the book. Her daughter was the first 2024 recruit she texted Sept. 1, 2022, at midnight.

“Do you want to finally be a Tar Heel?”

“One thing we joke about is how we know she'll be so much harder on me,” Kate Levy said. “Some people think that because of my last name, I will be treated differently, but I think I'll always have a higher expectation for myself. As I go forward, I just want to show that I am where I am not because of my mom, and it's been important to me to work for everything I've gotten.”

Boys' Latin (Md.) boys' lacrosse player Spencer Ford Jr.
Boys' Latin (Md.) star Spencer Ford Jr. spent time in MLL clubhouses and around the teams when his father played and coached.
John Strohsacker

Little Spence No Longer

By Matt DaSilva

You might think given his pedigree that Spencer Ford Jr. had no choice but to play lacrosse. That if only by sheer osmosis, he was bound to love the sport his father played and coached professionally. He played catch with Casey Powell, for crying out loud.

But for two insufferable springs in grade school, Ford decided to play baseball instead of lacrosse.

“Lacrosse was in my blood,” Ford said. “It had been my favorite sport, something I loved. But I just wasn’t having fun playing lacrosse.”

That changed, however, when Ford met the late Dave Huntley. As much as Ford enjoyed being a toddler in the locker room when his father played for the Los Angeles Riptide and throwing around with Powell when
his father was the general manager of the Chesapeake Bayhawks, it was Huntley who unlocked his passion.

“Hunts was just so laid back, it was easy for the boys to gravitate toward him,” said Spencer Ford Sr., who coached alongside Huntley and worked in the front office for the Atlanta Blaze. “You couldn’t be around him and not love lacrosse.”

A larger-than-life figure in the sport, Huntley died of a heart attack in 2017.

“He’s the main reason I got back into lacrosse,” said the younger Ford, now a senior attackman at Boys’ Latin (Md.) and prized Maryland recruit. “I started to actually study and love the game.”

Spencer Ford Jr. and Spencer Ford Sr. through the years

Father and son have some similarities. A three-time Major League Lacrosse All-Star who set the MLL single-season record with 47 assists in 2007, Spencer Ford Sr. made a living setting up others to score. Spencer Ford Jr. has comparable vision and passing ability, but “Little Spence” is three inches taller (6-foot-3) than “Big Spence” and can gain separation from his defender to score on his own.

Ford is the top-rated attackman in the high school class of 2024, according to the National Lacrosse Federation. How good is he? Johns Hopkins pulled out Huntley’s size-medium No. 18 jersey he wore for the Blue Jays’ NCAA championship teams in 1978 and 1979 for Ford to try on during his recruiting visit. It almost worked. Ford chose Maryland, however, over Hopkins and his father’s alma mater, Towson.

“We were a little bit torn there,” Spencer Ford Sr. said.

Ford and his Crabs Lacrosse teammate — Loyola Blakefield (Md.) and two-time USA Select defenseman Peter Laake — both committed to Maryland on the heels of the Terps’ undefeated run to the NCAA championship in 2022. Ford had heard that Maryland coach John Tillman, who is unmarried, treated his players like sons. That resonated with someone who can’t help but view his lacrosse experience through a father-son lens.

“He’s taught me pretty much everything I know,” he said. “He’s been the guy I’ve looked up to since I was 4 playing in the backyard with a tennis ball and a mini-goal.”

Madison Rassas in action with the USA Select team
Formerly for the USA Select team and now for the U.S. Women's U20 Training Team, Madison Rassas wears the red, white and blue headband her father gave her.
Nick Ieradi

Something Special

By Kenny DeJohn

There’s pride in Todd Rassas’ voice when he speaks of his daughter’s lacrosse achievements.

A three-time All-American defenseman at Notre Dame and a two-time U.S. Men’s National Team member, Rassas has watched his daughter, Madison, don the red, white and blue for the past several seasons. First as one of the National Team Development Program’s success stories, and now as a member of the U.S. Women’s U20 Training Team with its eyes set on Hong Kong, China, this summer.

“When I got to wear the USA jersey the first time, it was shortly after 9/11,” Todd Rassas said. “I’ve served with the Secret Service for the last 24 years, so it kind of has a secondary meaning for me. To see that come around again was really, really cool for me. Every time she gets to wear it, it’s something special.”

Madison and Todd Rassas through the years

Madison Rassas, the No. 2 player in the class of 2024 according to Inside Lacrosse, can often be seen flying around the midfield wearing a red, white and blue headband. It’s the same one she’s worn every game she’s ever played. It was, naturally, a gift from her father.

After finishing her senior season at Georgetown Visitation (D.C.), she’ll again follow the path set forth by her family by attending Notre Dame. Both her great-grandfather and grandfather played football for the Fighting Irish, so she’ll be the fourth generation to find a home in South Bend.

“I was always growing up going to camps,” she said. “Right before my recruiting summer, I got to see a lot of schools, but Notre Dame always felt like the spot for me.”

Few things have prepared Rassas more for the big time than playing in the backyard. Todd Rassas won’t play catch with Madison or her sister, Kenzie – a class of 2026 midfielder — with their strong hand. And everything they do is purposeful. There’s always some sort of game going on, like H-O-R-S-E or a shooting competition.

“I think the siding on our house needs to be replaced with all the missed shots,” Todd Rassas said.

Watching a former U.S. team captain and an up-and-comer in the U.S. system clash in the backyard could bring the best out in anyone.

“We have the saying in our household that is, ‘There’s someone out there always working harder than you are,’ so it always motivated my sister and me,” Madison Rassas said.

This will be the last high school season Madison and Kenzie share the same midfield. “The great thing is, I get to see this movie again, when Kenzie is coming into her own,” Todd Rassas said. “This is the last year I get to have both my kids on the same midfield line at the same high school. We’re super excited to watch this year.”

Ridgefield (Conn.) boys' lacrosse player Kyle Colsey
Kyle Colsey says his father has held him to a higher standard as his coach at Ridgefield.
Dave Stewart

Tough Love

By Dylan Butler

Kyle Colsey’s high school career started out with a bang. The freshman scored eight goals in a win over St. Joseph (Conn.). He was jacked up.

But when he scored just once against perennial Connecticut powerhouses Darien and New Canaan in the next two games, his father and coach, Roy Colsey, sat down the 14-year-old for a humbling conversation.

“These are the teams that we need you to score against, not these other opponents,” Kyle Colsey said his father told him. “I kind of realized that I need to lock in, that I’m not as good as that one game showed. I really needed to lock in.”

Colsey has locked in and is now a five-star recruit, ranked No. 9 in the Class of 2024 by Inside Lacrosse and headed to Virginia. He’ll be one of the most decorated players at Ridgefield High School when all is said and done.

He’s also the most yelled at.

“Every day in practice was a grind. We had our fun, but I mean, there wasn't a time in practice that I didn't get yelled at in front of everyone and like pretty, pretty bad,” Colsey said. “Honestly, it's good. I wouldn't change it for the world but, it’s definitely different.”

Kyle and Roy Colsey through the years

Before that eight-goal game in his varsity debut, Roy Colsey told his son how he’d handle the father-son/coach-player dynamic. With tough love.

“Unfortunately you treat him worse, that’s what winds up happening,” Roy Colsey said. “I think people, no matter what you do, are looking for favoritism. They’re looking for some kind of benefit that's happening for your son because you're coaching him.”

Roy told Kyle if he was close in terms of skill level with another player, that other player would get the edge.

It never came to that. That first year, Kyle and his older brother Ryan, helped lead Ridgefield to the CIAC Class L championship, although Kyle missed the championship game due to an emergency appendectomy.

Ryan has gone on to play at Virginia, where he’s now a sophomore attackman. Kyle has 179 goals and 98 assists and is a two-time All-American. He’ll join his brother in Charlottesville next year.

And Roy, the Syracuse legend and National Lacrosse Hall of Fame midfielder, will be there too, just as dad. “He loves UVA now, probably more than Syracuse,” Kyle Colsey joked.

This is Kyle’s final season at Ridgefield and Roy’s last as head coach after 15 years.

“He's done everything for this program,” Kyle Colsey said. “This is my last ride. This is my dad's last ride. I want to go out with some hardware.”