Athlete of the Week: Lacrosse is family tradition for Bucs’ Christie

With 231 career points (146 goals, 85 assists), Conor Christie is just three points shy of the school record that Jonathan Gaglione set last year before he graduated. Submitted photo

(EDITOR’S NOTE: With the high school sports world on hold, we’re going to continue our Athlete of the Week feature with a little different format. We’re going to recognize a downstate senior athlete by sport for their career accomplishments. This week, Milford High’s Conor Christie won our readers’ poll for boys’ lacrosse.)

MILFORD — In a way, Conor Christie was born to be a Milford High boys’ lacrosse player.

The senior attack was born the same year the Buccaneers started their program.

But, probably more important to Christie’s future success, was the fact that both his older brothers played lacrosse for Milford.

Now Christie’s coach, Blake Faulkner actually played with Chad and Ryan Christie, in high school. He can remember Conor as the little brother running around with a stick.

“It was something that you could just kind of see,” said Faulkner, who also coached youth lacrosse in Milford. “You knew that the Christie kids were going to take up lacrosse. It was only a matter of time before he picked it up, too.

“You could see the progression that he made as he got older and a little more confident in himself.”

It’s probably fitting then that Conor Christie has grown up to be one of the top lacrosse players in Milford history.

With 231 career points (146 goals, 85 assists), Christie is just three points shy of the school record that Jonathan Gaglione set last year before he graduated.

While the high school spring sports season is on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic, Christie certainly would have broken the record.

But Faulkner would quickly tell you that Christie’s biggest goal this spring was helping the Bucs earn their first DIAA state tournament victory. They’re 0-4 in the tourney over the last five seasons.

“When I talked to Conor going into this year, he and I had many conversations about goals,” said Faulkner, who is in his sixth year as the Bucs’ head coach. “For him, it was about setting records in a different way. None of it had anything to do with his points — he could care less how many points he had.

“His main goal going into this year was to do something that Milford hasn’t done — and that’s win a playoff game. That was the real target for him and a lot of our kids.”

“That’s always been my goal,” said Christie, who has been a team captain the past two seasons. “I mean, the goal is always a state championship. But, if you’ve never won at least one playoff game, you’ve got to worry about that.”

Milford was set to move up to the Henlopen North this spring where it will have to contend with perennial state powers Cape Henlopen and Caesar Rodney for the division crown. The Bucs were also preparing to face a non-conference schedule that included St. Andrews, Sanford and Delaware Military among others.

“Our whole team, we really enjoy the competition,” said Christie. “We embrace it. Playing against good competition, that’s the only way to get better and prove you’re worthy of being one of the best.”

Christie has made first-team All-Henlopen South in each of his three high school seasons. A year ago he netted 50 goals and 34 assists as Milford won the South title for the third time in the last four seasons.

In a sport that’s still relatively new among a lot of Delaware high schools, being around lacrosse all his life has been an advantage for Christie.

Not only did his two older brothers play the game in high school, but Christie’s dad, Don, played the sport at Columbia, N.J. High. The family’s still got an old, beat up goal to show how many shots have been fired in the backyard over the years.

“I don’t think there was another option,” Christie joked about picking lacrosse. “It’s been in my family for 40-plus years.

“I started playing (organized lacrosse) when I was around eight and my brothers didn’t playing start until they were in high school. They didn’t have any youth (leagues) back then. I think I had a real advantage when it came to that.”

Faulkner says Christie’s lacrosse IQ is what sets him apart from less-experienced players. He says Christie is disappointed that his assists total isn’t higher.

“I find a big satisfaction to set my teammates up for goals,” said Christie.

A good student in the classroom, Christie is going to continue his lacrosse playing career at Eastern University (Pa.) in the fall. He thinks he wants to be a teacher some day, probably in math.

“I don’t have to worry about him as far as grades go,” said Faulkner. “His mentality as a student — being as studious as he is — really carries over into the game as well. Lacrosse IQ is different than regular IQ, obviously, but he has both.”

For now, Christie is going to keep shooting at his two backyard goals — there’s a new one, too — and keep hoping that maybe he gets to take the field in a Milford uniform again this spring.

“I’m trying to be positive, I guess,” said Christie. “I try to have the mindset that, hey, for athletes, they can take this time to improve themselves and be a better player when this whole thing ends. I’ve still been outside every single day practicing.

“I’m still hopeful that maybe something like a miracle can happen.”