Park City student Henry Silverman balances lacrosse and engineering
Park City High School senior Henry Silverman is a double threat.
The 17-year-old Park City lacrosse starter will play for the state title on Saturday at 8 p.m. against Brighton at Corner Canyon. He’s also a robotics competitor and an aspiring engineer who was recently accepted to the University of Michigan, home to a top-ranked engineering school. Silverman said reaching those goals didn’t come easily.
The senior started playing lacrosse at the age of 10. He played hockey for a year, but his parents “really didn’t like that,” he said, so he started trying other sports, including lacrosse.
“I don’t think they liked the contact, which is funny considering the sport I ended up playing,” Silverman said.
Silverman suspects his parents didn’t know much about lacrosse when they let him join the Parley’s Park Elementary school team.
But he loved the sport, and for one reason or another, his parents were OK with him playing. He has played every year since.
At the same time he discovered lacrosse, he was discovering his love for engineering.
He participated in STEM programs in elementary and middle school, and discovered that he enjoyed working with his hands.
“That was one of the most fun experiences I’ve had,” he said of early engineering programs. “You pretty much go into the library and build bridges and stuff with marshmallows and toothpicks. Balloon cars, stuff like that.
“I enjoyed working with things, ultimately, and I liked trying to set a challenge for myself. … It was fun to compete with other people in a way that wasn’t sports or wasn’t based on anything else.”
He competed on club teams each summer but eventually focused on the school teams due to feeling burnt out.
When he got to Park City High School, he joined the Miners junior varsity team, where he remained until the very end of his junior year.
“It was difficult because I tried to switch positions at the last minute,” he said. He was trying to make the move from defense to midfield his sophomore year, and learning a new position and the associated tactics took time. But also, he said he remained on the JV team because he wasn’t committed to improvement.
In years past, he simply didn’t train before preseason conditioning, and wasn’t in form when the season began.
Last season, he showed promise once he shook off the rust he’d accumulated over the summer, but it was too little, too late.
“During the season I worked my butt off and got pulled up at the end of the season to go play varsity,” he said. “And we won a state championship. I have a medal, but I just sat on the sideline. I saw the whole thing, I was there for the celebration, but I was on the sideline.”
It made him wonder what would have happened if he had simply applied himself sooner.
So before this season, he started his training earlier.
“I did preseason training, went to the gym as much as I could, I tried to transfer over some of my mountain biking aerobic stuff but, they are two very different things, running and biking,” he said.
He came into the season in better form, and took a starting position as a short-stick midfielder.
“When the roster came out, I was so excited to see I was on varsity,” he said. “I’ve worked really hard throughout the season to make sure I maintain my position and keep staying on the field as a starter.”
Coach Brian Bilzi said Silverman is a well-rounded player, which makes planning the team’s strategy easier. As a defensive midfield player, he takes the field alongside Brady Baumann and long stick midfielder Andrew Pederson, which means he plays alongside perhaps the best midfielders in the state. Baumann is sometimes referred to as “the human clear” because of his ability to simply run the ball out of trouble. Pederson is a big, physical presence with knowledge of the game and good vision. Whoever plays alongside those two is likely to be thought of as the weak link, but Bilzi said Silverman holds his own.
“He’s physical and tough and gets the most out of his ability,” Bilzi said. “If you watch film he doesn’t really pop because he’s not the fastest, but he’s incredibly strong and steady and smart.”
On Saturday, Silverman will get another shot at the title he was so close yet so far from last season, when the Miners face Brighton at Corner Canyon at 8 p.m. in a rematch of last year’s title game.
Silverman is also succeeding off the field. He participates on one of Park City High School’s competitive robotics teams, alongside his teammate Alex Prucka. After winning a qualifying event in Idaho, he and Prucka competed at the FIRST World Championship in Houston in April, where they finished 38th in their division in a field of 80.
From a field of choices including California Polytechnic State University and the University of California Los Angeles, he decided to instead move north to Ann Arbor in the fall, where he plans on studying electrical engineering.
“I’ve been looking into aerospace electrical engineering for a while, and maybe going into sensors or something with that,” he said. “Detroit is obviously a big automotive hub, so I could work on self-driving cars. The one big draw about Michigan is it’s so good in so many departments, I think I could get a degree in just about anything and be set on a career path and still have a top-notch education.”
He said he will likely spend his first year playing intramural lacrosse and adjusting to his collegiate course load, but is considering trying out for the Wolverines’ NCAA lacrosse team as a sophomore.
Silverman said the overlap of his two passions lies in overcoming challenges, like making the jump onto the Park City varsity team.
“I think that’s ultimately the life lesson that can be applied to anything, but especially engineering,” he said of the dedication required to succeed. “Engineering is just the process of creating a solution to a problem that either society or a certain group of people face. And that’s problem solving, and in order to problem solve you do have to push through adversity and obstacles. I think lacrosse has probably taught me that.”
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The Miners ended up on the wrong side of a close game on senior night but are still fighting for playoff seeding.