Grant Ament Continues Penn State Men’s Lacrosse Tradition By Wearing No. 16 In PLL
Grant Ament arrived in Happy Valley just a few months after Penn State men’s lacrosse’s Connor Darcey tragically lost his life in a car accident in June 2015. Darcey, who was just 21 years old, was a talented goalkeeper for the Nittany Lions, but, more importantly, a valued leader and friend among his teammates.
After Ament joined the Archers as the No. 1 overall pick in the Premier League Lacrosse Draft last week, he quickly announced he’d don No. 16 in honor of his fellow Nittany Lion.
Ament’s decision to wear the number comes from a tradition that was created soon after Darcey’s death. Each year since the accident, head coach Jeff Tambroni has selected a player to wear the late goalkeeper’s number.
Ament explained that James Burke, a senior captain for the team in 2016, was best friends with Darcey and was chosen as the first player to wear the number. The tradition continued as Ryan Sexton, Ryan Keenan, Chris Sabia, and Nick Cardile have been given the honor in the following seasons.
“It’s definitely taken on a life of its own,” Ament said. “In lacrosse, there are a bunch of programs that put numbers away for the best players, and I think it’s pretty cool that we’re a team that honors a teammate that isn’t with us anymore.
“Our role in this is to carry on Connor’s legacy,” Ament continued. “I didn’t get to know him too well other than a few recruiting visits, but from what we’ve been told, he was a really competitive guy who would be willing to lay it on the line for his team.”
Ament added that Connor’s legacy is carried on in several other ways, including how each huddle is broken with, “16 on three.”
Ament, who holds Penn State’s all-time scoring record, now joins a club of fellow Nittany Lions who wear No. 16 at the professional level. Star defenseman Chris Sabia wore it with the PLL’s Chrome last season, while Ryan Keenan and Nick Aponte both carry it with their respective professional lacrosse clubs.
Ament explained there were multiple reasons he chose to wear No. 16 with the Archers.
“I think it’s a pretty cool way to honor the Darcey family and obviously Connor,” Ament said. “But I also think it’s much deeper in that we’re representing Penn State lacrosse at a professional level. The hope is this becomes a tradition for guys from our team that go pro.”
While Ament’s days at Penn State are over, he feels his decision to wear the number will give him a strong connection to the university.
The star player leaves Happy Valley with a historic resume that includes 189 assists and 91 goals, not to mention leading the program to its first-ever Final Four appearance in 2019. While his legend will likely live on for a long time among the lacrosse program, Ament’s decision to wear No. 16 only brings him closer.
“Obviously I’m not going to be putting on the blue and white anymore, but I still want to represent Penn State lacrosse in everything that I do,” Ament said. “Just because I’m not on campus doesn’t mean it’s still not a part of me.”
As Ament approaches his professional lacrosse career, he’ll take with him many of the characteristics that Darcey and so many who wore No. 16 after him had — most notably a relentless competitive fire.
“It just comes down to your competitiveness,” Ament said. “That was one thing that separated Connor. He really was just a competitive person who never took no for an answer. You saw that in games that he played. I remember the Johns Hopkins game that went into double overtime and he stood on his head.”
As the Nittany Lion legend carries on this honored tradition into the PLL, it won’t soon be forgotten how much he helped develop a strong lacrosse culture at Penn State. While his final season was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic, he feels the sky is the limit for years to come.
“I think the expectation is Championship Weekend,” Ament said. “I know they’ve got a lot of guys coming back. I’m not one of them but I know those guys very well, and their expectations are pretty high. Beyond those wins and losses, though, the hope is that Penn State lacrosse does things a little different.
“Speaking on behalf of all five seniors and all of the seniors from last year, we’re most proud of the culture we’ve developed over these past five years,” Ament said. “The rings and the Big Ten championships are awesome, but it’s more that we collectively put the program in a position to be successful for years to come.”
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