NISKAYUNA — Gabe Nish and Drew Collins joined the Niskayuna youth lacrosse program when they were in third grade. Dan Brownell and Nick Fraterrigo picked up sticks when they were in fourth grade. A year later, Matt Frankel started playing the sport.
"When you're a little kid, you have no sense of time," said Nish, who, like his lifelong friends, is a now a senior at Niskayuna High School. "You think you'll always be playing together. Like it's never going to end."
All good things do, though, and for this Silver Warriors' group, that will come sometime and somewhere this spring after their final playoff bid comes to an end. Their bond will continue in a different kind of way after that, with each of them headed to a Northeast-10 Conference college to continue their lacrosse playing career.
Nish, Collins, Brownell, Fraterrigo and Frankel were among 17 Niskayuna 12th-grade student-athletes recognized at a signing ceremony Wednesday morning in the high school auditorium. Of the 17, 12 will be playing collegiate lacrosse.
"I love playing with them," said Fraterrigo, a defenseman who has committed to Le Moyne. "I'm sure playing against them in the same league will be fun, too."
Nish is also headed to Le Moyne — the 2018 NE-10 regular season champ — to play midfield for the Dolphins. Brownell will be running midfield at Saint Michael's, Collins will play attack at Southern New Hampshire and Frankel will play goalkeeper at The College of Saint Rose.
"They could be playing against each other for a spot in the NCAA [Division II] tournament," Niskayuna lacrosse coach Mike Vorgang said. "You could have Nick Fraterrigo going against Drew Collins with one possession to go."
Collins, Nish and Brownell could someday find themselves firing shots at Frankel, like they will in practice sessions this winter and spring before donning new colors for new schools.
"I remember watching guys at that level when I was younger and thinking that someday, that could be us," Collins said. "Time went by like nothing."
There is still a season remaining for the five young men and the rest of the Niskayuna seniors, and one more chance for a deep playoff run. Niskayuna beat Shenendehowa for its 16th Section II title last spring and topped Kingston and Mamaroneck in the regionals before a state semifinal loss to Ward Melville.
The 14-13 win over Mamaroneck was among Niskayuna's most outstanding in program history as it rallied from a 10-4 deficit. Collins capped the comeback with the game's final two goals.
"It will be our last season together," Fraterrigo said. "Last year, we won the sectionals and won the regionals. We'd like to go farther. We're all definitely looking for the last hurrah together."
"Doing it together is the main thing," Nish said. "We've got a team of seniors who want to make it a special trip. It's our chance to leave our mark on the program."
Niskayuna senior midfielder Griffin King, a US Lacrosse All-American and the team's goal-scoring leader in 2018 with 63, signed with Brown University Wednesday.
Niskayuna girls' lacrosse players who signed were Claudia Agostino (St. Rose), Hannah Aronowitz (Bentley), Annabelle Conover (UAlbany), Jane Reffelt (American), Peyton Reihs (Southern New Hampshire) and Ava Schroeder (New Hampshire).
Others who signed were Hannah Bachert (Rhode Island, rowing), Marty Dolan (Binghamton, cross country/track), Madeleine Hesler (James Madison, cross country/track), Jimmy Joyce (Holy Cross, soccer) and Merjan Ozisik (Syracuse, soccer).
Several other signing ceremonies took place Wednesday. At Glens Falls, state career basketball scoring leader Joseph Girard III signed with Syracuse University, and at Saratoga Springs, four-time Section II Class A cross country champion Kelsey Chmiel signed with North Carolina State University.