SAINT LEO, Fla. – Redshirt senior Devin Sparks of the Saint Leo men’s lacrosse team will be doing something in 2021 that he has never done his entire life, play on a competitive sports team without his twin brother Daniel on the roster. The two have been at each other’s sides on the playing field since they both took up football in third grade but that will all change when the Lions take the field in 2021 as Daniel has graduated while Devin seeks his fifth year of eligibility.
The two have been inseparable since birth as Daniel made his appearance just a minute prior to his “younger” twin brother Devin back in 1997 in Jacksonville, Fla. They grew up competing on the same teams and eventually chose to pursue collegiate lacrosse together despite also being successful on the football field.
Their family relocated to Indiana and that is where the two honed their skills on both the football and lacrosse fields but when deciding where to go to college the pair knew the warm south and a return to their birth state was where they wanted to go. They made the joint decision to call Saint Leo home for their collegiate careers but not everything went to plan.
Prior to arriving on campus Daniel suffered an ACL injury which proved to be an omen to the future for both brothers. Daniel watched from the sideline for most of their first preseason together at Saint Leo as his brother Devin prepared for a season in which he scored three goals and dished out three assists in route to a Sunshine State Conference All-Freshman Team selection. Daniel, who was limited in playing time due to his injury and missed preseason was still able to score five goals and dish out an assist in five appearances for the Lions.
Daniel would go on to complete a full sophomore campaign in 2018 while Devin suffered the same injury as his brother, an ACL tear in practice, and was forced to watch from the sideline the entire year including the Lions trip to the NCAA National Championship. In 2019 everything looked to be going according to plan for the brothers as they were both competing on the field together for most of the season until injury struck again as Daniel suffered his second ACL injury and was forced to miss the final four games of the year.
Following Daniel’s rehab the brothers hoped to play one final year of competitive sports together in 2020 but that was cut short once again as Devin suffered his second ACL injury just eight days before the first game of the season. This cut out all hope that the two would take the field together again as Daniel went on to play in all five of the Lions contests during the COVID-19 shortened season.
With Daniel now pursuing his post-collegiate career in Colorado, Devin has now been faced with something he’s never experienced before, going to school and playing on a team without his “older” brother. The two have helped each other through everything including rehabbing injuries, tough classes and everything in between. The two still talk almost every day whether it be through a phone call or text message but it will definitely not be the same as they are separated by over 1,500 miles.
Devin believes his journey through injuries and rehab will help him be a part of the leadership of this 2021 squad who is coming off the disappointment of having its season cut short in 2020 due to the pandemic. Having a season taken away is something Devin is familiar with having lost two seasons due to injury and watching his brother go through the same. He will use that experience to help keep the team focused on the goal of returning to the field in 2021 just as he focused on getting back for the 2019 season after watching his teammates take the field for the National Championship in 2018.
For more information on the Saint Leo men’s lacrosse program, visit SaintLeoLions.com. Fans can also stay up-to-date on the latest Lions news by following Saint Leo Athletics on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.