It doesn’t matter the time of day or the circumstance, Cameron Coyle is flawless when it comes to our nation’s leaders.
The sophomore goalie just had his season come to a disappointing end when the Robbinsville High boys’ lacrosse team was ousted from the state tournament by Seneca. Despite not being in a happy mood, Coyle’s mind was still sharp when spontaneously asked who was the 28th president of the United States.
“Woodrow Wilson is the 28th president,” he said with a grin. “I’m always ready.”
Coyle is not only a standout goalie, he is a presidential expert. He became aware of the world’s most powerful men since hearing a campaign jingle on television when he was 5-years-old.
“I just really caught onto it,” he said. “I remembered it and it just took off for me, I loved studying that. I was carrying books around with me for as long as I can remember, going on vacations, going to the store. I was reading books, it just really grew on me.”
Coyle said he could not name a favorite because he has respect for them all. But he has taken a keen interest in Zachary Taylor, who he quickly noted was our 12th president, and his vice president was Millard Fillmore (he also knows all the VPs).
Coyle and his grandfather would travel around the country to visit presidential historical sites. They soon noticed that Taylor was the lone president not to have such a site.
“I’ve been working hard to try and get a national site for him,” Coyle said. “Now I’m reading biographies, I’m calling people, doing whatever I need to do to figure it out.”
Surprisingly, he has come across numerous interesting details about Taylor, noting, “No one would even expect that.” One of the most unique items is how he died. The common belief is that he passed away while eating cherries and drinking milk on a hot day.
“It might be true, it might not be,” Coyle said. “Depends on the source.”
The most accepted version come from Michael Holt, an emeritus professor of history at the University of Virginia. Holt wrote that Taylor drank ice water and large helpings of cherries and other fruits while walking along the Potomac River on Fourth of July. He passed away five days later.
The point here being, Coyle can give you a presidential tidbit as quickly as he can provide a big save in goal.
A product of the Robbinsville Lacrosse Association, he was one of many players “thrown into the cage” in third grade.
“They were like, ‘You’re the goalie,’” he said. “I was like ‘OK, I’ll do whatever.’”
In fourth grade, he led the team in goals at attack, while also playing in goal. By fifth grade he started taking goalkeeping serious. He worked with Dave Decker, a former All-American at Stevens Tech. Upon moving to Blue Star Lacrosse, he came under the wing of former Shawnee coach Don Green and former Notre Dame University goalie Shane Doss.
By the time he arrived at Robbinsville, his name was already out there.
“I knew about him,” coach John Demkovitz said. “I always say it’s nice to hear about people but I want to see for myself. You knew the first day that there was something special about the kid. I’m just so happy he’s on our side.”
Coyle made 174 saves during his freshman season as the Ravens went 6-10 and won a state tournament game. His ability to lead on the field resulted in him being voted captain by his teammates this year.
“That’s all you really need to say about him,” Demkovitz said. “He’s positive all day long. Thank God he’s on our sideline. He brings energy every single day. He’s always positive, always looking at the brighter side of things. He keeps things loose at practice, he’s a great individual.”
He’s also consistent, as he made 189 saves in this year’s 8-8 season, while allowing just one more goal than last season. Coyle can make the mundane stop along with the spectacular.
“You’ve just gotta find a comfort zone and be consistent whenever you can be,” he said. “It sounds easy but it takes a lot of time and takes maturity to get into that rhythm. Sometimes when you don’t do everything right it doesn’t happen the way you expect. It’s just about the comfort zone.”
The question is, how does one get into that cherished area?
“I try to zone everything out,” Coyle continued. “If you overthink it, you’re not gonna be on par. I personally like to do a lot of breathing exercises just to get my mind focused and settle down. You can’t be too jittery or else you’re gonna slip up a little bit. Those milliseconds count.”
Demkovitz, who played for Robbinsville, feels Coyle is the best goalie the program has had, considering he has two years left. And there is more to it than just a positive mindset.
“He has a 100 percent work ethic,” the coach said. “Not one person works harder than him and I put him up against anyone. He’s obviously a gifted lacrosse player. But when you have a gifted lacrosse player and an extra hard worker, that’s a great combination.”
That work ethic spills over into the classroom where Coyle has a 4.0 grade point average. He has already reached out to college coaches in order to continue his playing career, saying “I just love the game and everything that goes with it.”
Not surprisingly, Coyle and some friends started a political club at RHS, and a refreshing one at that considering the climate of the country these days.
“We started a bipartisan student political action club,” he said. “It’s a forum where you can all talk about different issues that are important to you, and give them a voice. It’s a divisive time now. The key to it is compromise. If you can listen to other people and be respectful than that’s a big thing…today, especially.”
In learning to compromise, it can sometimes help to look back on history, which is no problem at all for Coyle.