Greens Farms Academy is a PreK-12, coed school in Westport, CT

GFA's Max Yates takes a winding road to college lacrosse decision

GFA's Max Yates takes a winding road to college lacrosse decision
John Nash

Greens Farms Academy senior Max Yates’ road to Division 1 college athletics full of twists and turns and a late-game lane change that sent Yates to a totally different destination than the one he imagined himself heading just a few years ago.

Last week, inside PreK–12 school’s Oak Room, Yates made his college choice official, signing an NCAA Letter of Intent to play Division 1 lacrosse at Colgate.

A three-year soccer starter at goalie for the Dragons, Yates thought for sure he would follow in the footsteps of his father, Tim, and play college soccer.

“I was very into soccer my whole life,” Yates said. “I played lacrosse at a high level, but my passion was soccer.”

By the time he was a junior, Yates—an All-State goalkeeper according to the Connecticut State High School Coaches Association—was being recruited by schools like Northeastern, Coast Guard, and Cornell.

Over the second half of his high school career, though, the sport of lacrosse started becoming more important to Yates.

He had gone to a lacrosse showcase, when out of the blue a coach for national lacrosse powerhouse Syracuse University approached Yates.

“I kind of stopped loving soccer the way I had before and I started to re-evaluate what I wanted to do and what made me happy,” Yates said. “I sat down with [GFA Boys Varsity Lacrosse Coach John Mathews and Athletic Director Tauni Butterfield] and we said, ‘Let’s go all-in for lacrosse.’”

He received a handful of Division 3 offers very quickly and soon the Division 1 schools started looking at Yates more closely, including some Ivy League schools.

Finally, Yates verbally committed to play at Wesleyan.

“I didn’t want to wait,” he said. “I was a little impatient.”

As schools waded their way through a COVID-19 admissions process that changed things, Colgate came calling late in the process.

Yates had gone to soccer camp at Colgate and had fallen in love with the school.

“It was my No. 1,” Yates said. “It was definitely my dream school.”

He decided to change his commitment and last week he made it official by signing on the dotted line with the Raiders.

“I loved the school,” Yates said of the small liberal arts school located in Hamilton, N.Y. “They play all the top programs and I really bought into the coach’s philosophy about family and what the team means.”

Colgate should be a great fit for Yates, a long-stick middie for the Dragons, according to Mathews.

“Max did not take this decision lightly,” the third-year GFA coach said. “His progression and improvement on the lacrosse field from summer 2019 until now speaks volumes about his dedication and determination to surpass his goals and get much better. You could call Max a late bloomer from a lacrosse standpoint, but to me his talent was always there.”