French signs to play lacrosse with Tigers

Published 5:06 pm Thursday, July 19, 2018

Multi-sport high school standout Billy French has been hard at work this summer preparing to play lacrosse for Hampden-Sydney College (H-SC) after graduating from Fuqua School. French formally committed to play for the Tigers during a spring signing ceremony at Fuqua’s Gilmer Gymnasium that included family, friends and coaches.

He noted that being able to sign with a college lacrosse program “meant a lot to me because coming from a small school, I didn’t think that I’d get this opportunity, and I’m not a confidence guy, so it really boosted my confidence when they said I have a spot.”

French has played lacrosse since he was in sixth grade. He began participating at Fuqua and has more recently logged a couple of years on a travel team now known as Lynchburg Select.

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He said he has had the desire to play college lacrosse since middle school.

“After my first year, I wasn’t very good, but I took that summer and just started playing and messing around with it, and I got good, and I decided, ‘Hey, I’d like to do this a bit longer,’” he said.

During his high school career, multiple colleges took notice of his skills and expressed interest, including Averett University, H-SC and a couple of schools in Georgia — Berry College and Piedmont College.

French said that Hampden-Sydney emerged as his choice “probably just because it’s closer to home and so my family can get out there and see what I’ve worked at.”

His father, H.A. French, expressed great joy in response to his son’s choice to go to H-SC.

“I tell you what, it was one of the most happiest days in my life there when he said he was going there,” the elder French said.

He noted that for a while, he and the family thought Billy would be playing football in college.

“For years he’s been a real special football player, but once we got into this lacrosse, he just loves it so much,” he said.

Billy, who has played football since he was 5, admitted it was a hard decision opting not to pursue the sport this year. But he left open the possibility of pursuing it in the future alongside lacrosse.

“Next summer, I’ll re-evaluate and see if I can maybe walk on …” he said.

In lacrosse, he gained experience playing everywhere on the field at Fuqua, though midfielder was the position he played most. With Lynchburg Select, he was an attackman and offensive midfielder, but French said H-SC Head Coach Jason Rostan told him he would start him out as a defensive midfielder.

In giving thanks to the people who helped him reach the ranks of college lacrosse players, French highlighted Craig Rogers, his first lacrosse coach who got him into the game, and Patrick Murphy and Alex Huggard, who have kept the program going at Fuqua, giving him the chance to play high school lacrosse.

“My family supported me all the way and told me, ‘Just keep doing your thing, and don’t get too cocky,’ and I think I’ve been able to do that so far,” he said.