By: Ryan Yursha
James Tomasini is in his element when he steps onto the field for warm-ups during the practice before a game. “What’s the weather going to be like tomorrow?” someone will ask, and the WestConn men’s lacrosse team knows that there’s only one man who might have the answer.
For the junior midfielder and meteorology major from Manorville, New York, this is his moment—his time to shine.
“65 and sunny, boys,” he might say, which is sure to elicit sighs of relief and tears of joy from a team that spends much of its season playing in spite of below freezing temperatures, snow storms, torrential downpours, and that ever-present and oh-so-brisk Westside Campus breeze.
Or he might be the bearer of bad news and break it to the team that there is a 100 percent chance of freezing rain starting right before the opening face off and clearing up as soon as the final whistle blows.
Whatever the case may be, Tomasini knows what’s coming next. A cacophony of doubt and insults erupts as soon as he makes his prediction. “He’s just guessing,” some tease, while others up the ante: “he can’t even guess!”
Tomasini, whose plans after graduation include a stint as a weather officer in the Air Force before beginning a career with the National Weather Service, has seen his forecasts fall in and out of favor this season. Sometimes he’s hot and his services are in high demand, but other times he goes cold and the team resorts to the consistently unreliable iPhone Weather app.
Just as Tomasini’s status as team weatherman exists in a constant state of flux, so has the position he plays and his spot on the depth chart during his three-year lacrosse career with the Colonials.
He first stumbled upon WestConn while he was looking for colleges with meteorology programs during his senior year at Eastport South Manor High School.
“I wasn’t completely sure that I wanted to declare as a meteorology major right away, but my dad told me he didn’t think it was smart to go in undecided and we’ve both always been interested in weather, so it seemed like a good fit,” says Tomasini, adding, “I wound up loving it right away.”
Hailing from Long Island, a hotbed of lacrosse talent that produces a disproportionately large share of top college recruits, it was only natural that he decided to play at the Division III level while pursuing his degree.
His recruiting process came at a time of uncertainty for the program, which was between head coaches at the time.
“I was looking at schools in between when [former coach] Jason Ouelett left and [current coach] Ryan Cavanaugh was hired, so when Cav came in I contacted him” says Tomasini. “He knew of my high school and thought I’d be a good fit for the program he was trying to put together here.”
Tomasini questioned that fit early in his career when his role on the team fell short of his expectations. “I was never the best at defense,” he says, “so I thought I’d be playing mostly as an offensive midfielder.” But, in what has become a rite of passage for freshman midfielders entering the program, he was thrust into a role as a starting defensive midfielder.
Two years later, Tomasini still toils in the defensive trenches. But despite the occasional injury, he’s managed to work his way into the offense, putting up three goals through nine games this season.
“I feel like I’ve become a better lacrosse player in general,” Tomasini says, “but the quality of recruiting is getting better, and since we have talented kids coming in every year, I don’t have as big of a role on the team as I used to.”
“It fluctuates,” he adds. “There are times when I get to play and I’ll be on the field all the time, but there were also games at the beginning of this season where I didn’t play at all. There’s competition at every spot now, so you always have to be working to get better.”
Working to get better is exactly what Tomasini has been doing, and it is the key to improving his ability to control those fluctuations, whether they be in his time on the field or in the accuracy of his forecasts. But the Colonials are heading into the Little East Conference playoffs at 10-7, their best record in recent memory, and they’d love to know whether to pack the parkas or the sunblock.