Brindisi’s True Keeper for the T-Birds
Dradon Brindisi’s first year of high school lacrosse ended with him being named to the All-Shoreline Conference Second Team in the 2021 season. Now back for year two as a junior, Dradon has cemented himself as the starting goalie for North Branford boys’ lacrosse team and become an integral part of the Thunderbirds’ success.
Dradon began playing lacrosse in West Haven’s youth league when he was in 3rd grade. His father Damien played lacrosse while growing up, and Dradon grew interested after his dad described the game to him. As he learned the sport of lacrosse, Dradon’s dad was always there to help him every step of the way.
“He was my go-to person to ask questions when I was first starting out. I was still a little nervous to talk to my coach then,” says Dradon. “He would always give me good pointers as to where to start, whether it was passing, catching, or where to position myself. It really was a good starting off point to have his knowledge help me get started.”
It didn’t take long Dradon to immerse himself in lacrosse. Following his first season of play, Dradon was all-in on the sport. Dradon enjoyed the speed and uniqueness of lacrosse and was interested in taking his game to the next level.
Dradon played in West Haven’s youth league through his 6th-grade season. Prior to 7th grade, Dradon and his family moved to North Branford. With a change in towns also came a change in positions for Dradon. After switching between defense and goalkeeper during his early days, Dradon became a full-time goalie that year. Dradon’s team didn’t have a goalkeeper, and he was willing to step up and take that opportunity.
“When the position was open, I had the mentality that I had to step up. Someone needed to. So, I decided I would fill in,” Dradon says. “It worked out. I really connected with it and I fit in well. It was something fun to learn. It was unique as a position. It just worked out.”
Now a seasoned goalkeeper, Dradon has formulated his routine between the pipes. He calls out to his defenders, locks his eyes on the ball, and clears his mind. Dradon is always focused on making the save and, when he does, there is no feeling quite like it.
“It does take a lot out of you to react as fast as you have to, but I had great coaches who were dedicated to teaching me. I worked hard on my own to hone in on the specifics I had to learn,” says Dradon. “It’s very stressful, but it’s very rewarding. It’s a split-second decision that can cost you a goal or a save. The feeling of making that clutch save fills me with that raw sports happiness.”
After Dradon’s freshman season, he joined the Thunderbirds at the start of his sophomore campaign and stepped into the net as North Branford’s starting goalkeeper. It was a big transition compared to his days in the youth ranks. However, Dradon decided to stick with it because he knew that his team needed a goalie, and he wanted to be that guy.
“At first, it was very hard. In youth, you practice twice a week and have a game once a week. For high school there’s practices every day, games two to three times a week,” says Dradon. “The force these high school guys were shooting at me was crazy. It was very intense. But I stuck with it because I felt like I was worth it, and I needed to do it for my team.”
Dradon battled past the challenges of being a first-year varsity keeper and saw his efforts pay off when he was selected to the All-Shoreline Conference Second Team at the end of the season. Dradon wasn’t expecting to make All-Conference, but felt honored to receive the accolade and considered it a testament to all the hard work that he put in through the years.
“That was huge for me. I had no idea I would be able to reach that my first year of high school lacrosse,” Dradon says. “To be up there with my teammates who have been doing it longer than I have, putting in so much work to put up there with them, was a huge honor.”
Knowing what to expect at the varsity level, Dradon felt less stress when he returned to the net as a junior. Dradon says that Head Coach Dave Carpenter trusts him to make the right decisions and shows confidence in the keeper that has helped Dradon become a leader on defense.
Coach Carpenter describes Dradon as a key component for the Thunderbirds. When North Branford faced Morgan on May 12, Dradon made a big save with 34 seconds left to help secure his team’s 12-10 victory over the Huskies. Carpenter says that when Dradon succeeds, the T-Birds succeed.
“Dradon is the anchor of our defense. He has a season save percentage of just over 60 percent,” says Carpenter. “When we have been successful, it all starts with him.”
While he’s accomplished a lot at North Branford, Dradon feels that the most important aspect of playing high school lacrosse is being part of a tight-knit community. Dradon says that competing for the T-Birds has shaped him into the player that he wants to be goal and the type of person that he strives to be when he’s off the field.
“It’s such an honor. I couldn’t be who I am without my team,” Dradon says. “It’s the team that holds me together as a person. It means a lot to me.”