It didn't take long for Aidan Guma to stand out at his first Leading Edge practice. Admittedly, he felt a little out of place when things first got going, and he also immediately found out why the hype for the Leading Edge 2020 team was what it was.
"I just remember having my blue helmet and everyone else had their red helmet," Guma said. "But I also remember one drill, I just took notice of the way (my teammates) carried themselves. They're some of the best players in the country. They wanted to win and they had the attitude to do it, and I just remember thinking, 'I have to switch my attitude and match these guys' intensity."
As you might expect, Guma took a little while to get accustomed to everything that playing for Leading Edge meant. Even though he was playing with elite teammates, he was also playing the country's top teams and players, week in and week out. He continued to get better, though, having a breakout fall a year ago and following it up with a great spring for SPF - 35 goals and 38 assists and a strong final summer for Leading Edge.
"It definitely took me a little while because when you're playing at such a high level, you have to break tendencies," Guma said. "You're getting the ball out of your stick quicker and looking for the open man. I just watched how everyone else played and I tried to mold myself into a better player."
That improved version of Guma is pretty darn good in its own right, and now, he's got his sights set on the college game after committing to Montclair State. He's the 19 LE '20 to verbal and the fourth to a Division I school, and he's the first Leading Edge player to choose the Red Hawks since Matt Speciale (Hillsborough) in 2012.
"Montclair was always a good choice for me, especially since both of my parents went there," Guma said. "Being close to home was a big factor for me because my parents wanted to see me play. I wanted to have a two to three-hour radius for school and didn't want to get on a plane and not have contact with my family. When I went on my overnight visit, the team seemed like guys that I'd want to play lacrosse with and hang out, and academically, Montclair affords me the opportunity to focus on a lot of different options."
Once Montclair first reached out to Guma, he always knew that it was an opportunity, but didn't follow up on it until later. Coach Matt Poskay, formerly the state of New Jersey's all-time goals and points leader until LE '19 Canyon Birch (Penn State) broke the records this year, asked Guma to come for a visit, and once he did, Guma knew it was the place for him.
"I went for the visit and just kind of fell in love with it," Guma said. "Coach Poskay is a great guy and seems like a really good leader. He's a players' coach and watching practice, it seemed like a really fun environment and I definitely want to be a part of it. Knowing how to have fun and be competitive at the same time is a huge positive."
Fittingly enough, Guma will have the opportunity to keep wearing red at the next level, a color that now suits him very well. His performances in a Leading Edge jersey should give him plenty of confidence as to what he can do for Poskay and the Red Hawks.
"I have to thank (Leading Edge director) Coach Chris Roy for everything," Guma said. "He gave me an opportunity when I wasn't getting a lot of them, he gave me the exposure that I needed and he really helped me throughout the recruiting process, and I'm very grateful for that."
For his part, Roy expects Guma to make some serious noise at the Division III level, particularly as he continues to improve his game.
"He took a little to get used to what Leading Edge was all about, but Aidan was always willing to put in the work that he needed in order to elevate his game," Roy said. "He's a versatile offensive player that can play attack or come out of the box as a midfielder. He's slick and finds ways to draw slides and put the ball on cage, and he's a nightmare for short sticks at X. We're incredibly proud of him for reaching his goal after working so hard to get there, and I think that Coach Poskay is going to be very happy when Aidan gets to Montclair."