Autograph seekers were standing on their toes throughout the winding line, attempting to catch a glimpse or snap a picture.
Trevor Baptiste has officially reached superstar status.
Just a month after the Wings’ first season back in Philadelphia wrapped up, Baptiste is being recognized by passionate lacrosse fans for his stellar rookie season in the City of Brotherly Love. Baptiste signed autographs for hundreds of admiring fans at the NCAA Lacrosse Championships at Lincoln Financial Field over the weekend, just across the street from where he excelled in a Wings uniform this season.
“The thing I really love about lacrosse is, a lot of times kids look up to professional players and they’re really accessible,” Baptiste said. “I think it’s great for the growth of the sport and obviously it makes me feel great to give back to other kids.”
Baptiste became a major weapon on the Wings this year, especially in the faceoff circle, where he won 362 draws, breaking the National Lacrosse League single season record. It was a little bit beyond where Baptiste imagined his first year going.
“I was unsure if I was even going to play in the beginning,” Baptiste said. “But I think it went well. At the same time, I’m still really hungry and I don’t think I’ve reached my potential. I have a lot to learn and a lot to improve on and I’m excited to do that.”
Once he was slotted into a faceoff specialist role to open the season, Baptiste could rely on his field lacrosse experience, where he was a wizard on draws. After honing his craft in high school at the Morristown-Beard School in New Jersey, Baptiste continued his expertise at the University of Denver, where he was consistently among the elite, finishing in the top-five in the country all four years in faceoff percentage. Twice he held the top ranking.
“I knew I was going to at least be able to bring faceoffs here to the Wings,” he said. “It was exciting, especially on the first go. And I’m hoping to just get better and better.”
Baptiste also brought that big-game experience, as the Pioneers qualified for the NCAA Tournament every year during his time at Denver. They won a Division 1 National Championship in 2015 in his freshman year.
“This is actually my first time here and not playing,” Baptiste said, as fans began filtering into the stadium for the University of Virginia-Yale championship game on Memorial Day. “It’s a lot different when you’re not playing. I never actually knew it was this much of an attraction (outside the arena). It’s really cool and really exciting for the sport.”
Inside the arena for the Wings this year, Baptiste was a main attraction.
“He had a huge season for us,” said Wings Head Coach and General Manager Paul Day. “He got us extra possessions and kept us in games. And he did a great job as a teammate with the guys. He’s an outstanding guy on and off the floor for us.”
Baptiste is looking to help Philadelphia improve after a 4-14 expansion season. Despite their overall record, the Wings were close in many contests, having lost eight games by two goals or fewer. Players think they’re not far from competing with the best.
“It’s going to be a great year,” Baptiste said. “Obviously we struggled a little bit earlier in the season, but I think we have a really great blueprint and a lot of great pieces to grow into a great team.”