D3 Dreamin’: The Tyler Neal Story

Vaughn DiBattista (vadibattista@ursinus.edu)

It’s August 2020, and the Ursinus Men’s Lacrosse team is eager to get back on campus and even more eager to get back to playing the sport they love. The guys exchange hugs after a long summer apart, as they spent quite some time distancing due to the pandemic. Many of the guys heard rumblings of a transfer student joining the team. But this wasn’t just any transfer. This was Rutgers attackman, Tyler Neal ‘23.

Neal spent his high school days at Del-Val Regional High School in New Jersey, playing football and lacrosse for the Terriers. He originally committed to Providence College to play lacrosse, but he decided to flip his commitment to Rutgers in order to stay local. Tyler was living any young athlete’s dream as he was committed to play at a division 1 school. 

Sadly, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows out there. According to scholarshipstats.com, only 7% of all high school athletes will play a varsity sport in college. Fewer than 2% of all high school athletes will play a sport at the division 1 level. That means that only 1 in 57 athletes play sports at the division 1 level. It’s a tough reality, but it’s challenging for a reason. It’s often said that playing a division 1 sport is like having a second job, as the time commitment leaves athletes struggling to manage their responsibilities as a full time student.

However, athletes have the option to take the division 3 route in order to gain a more balanced schedule. Division 3 lets student-athletes actually be students, and in Tyler Neal’s case, it was just that. Tyler transferred to Ursinus in the Fall of 2020, and hasn’t looked back since. 

“While I learned so much from going through the busy athletic schedule of division 1, having an adequate amount of time to be a college student proved to be very important to me. Switching to division 3 gave me the opportunity to play the sport I love while also having plenty of time to be a student and socialize with my friends and teammates.”

Since coming to Ursinus, he has flourished as a player. Neal tied the single-game points record in his first game with the Bears, and later led the team in goals and assists for the year. He earned all centennial honors in his first year, and even earned an All-American nod from InsideLacrosse magazine for the 2022 preseason. Out of all of his accomplishments at Ursinus, his favorite came about a month ago when he was promoted to captain. 

“When transferring, the first worry on my mind was meshing well, and the guys on my team made that an effortless experience for me. I could not be more proud to represent such a great group of guys. I am extremely grateful for my team’s belief in me and I cannot wait to learn and grow in this role as we take on this spring season together.”
Despite having experience playing division 1, Neal wouldn’t say that the competition level is lower. Neal emphasized that Ursinus has given him the opportunity to hone his craft in order to bring home the Centennial Conference Championship, a feat that the Bears are still chasing after their victory in 2019.

With Neal at the helm, the sky’s the limit for the Bears, and he expects nothing less than the sky itself. “I have never been a part of such a driven and hardworking atmosphere. You can expect us to fight every opponent we face to the last whistle and give every game all we have. I truly believe that the Men’s Lacrosse team has some incredible things in store this season, and lots to prove, so you won’t want to miss a second of what is to come this spring.” 

As for this spring, expect for some big things to happen on Patterson field. You won’t want to miss it.