Photo courtesy of Alain Tingue
There’s never been a doubt about in Chris Bardak‘s mind, even though it might have seemed like a stretch to be so deadset from such a young age.
The goal for Bardak has always been to go to a service academy. His lifetime goal has been locked in to being part of the special forces, and he envisioned being a Navy SEAL because that’s the most well-known special forces unit. He then visited a PJ (pararescue) base, which strengthened his belief that he wanted to be in the special forces but diverted his attention away from being a SEAL.
When he took his first visit to a Division I school, he came away extremely impressed and could have seen himself there. When the opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream came up, though, there was no second-guessing it. Bardak took a visit to Air Force and came away so impressed and overwhelmed that he committed to its admissions process shortly thereafter.
“I always thought to myself that there was no way I was going to leave this Earth without going through one of the trainings, and how it would be a dream come true,” Bardak said. “I’m very regimented and this has been my dream all my life. When I visited, it was a great atmosphere and the place was gorgeous. It’s a dream come true. I was sold from the minute I got there. I really loved the kids on the team and I think I fit in great, and the Air Force will get me to where I want to be.”
Bardak was so sold on the thought of serving that he knew he’d accept an offer right away if it came his way. It didn’t take long for the Team 91 2020 Crush and St. Anthony’s LSM to do just that, and he became the 17th Crush player to commit, all to Division I schools. He’ll join Crush teammate Jack Stewart (Moorestown, N.J.) at the Academy.
“I made it clear that this was my No. 1 choice and it was where I wanted to be,” Bardak said. “Coach (Bill) Wilson and I got along great, and he was already talking about admissions pretty quickly. I think he thought it was settled pretty much when I got there. I’m really excited, and being able to play Division I lacrosse while doing what I’ve always wanted to do is a bonus. I was just so happy.”
A lifelong Crusher – he made the team in second grade and never looked back – Bardak took a little bit more time to get himself on Division I radars, but once he got there, he found exactly what he was looking for. He was ecstatic for his teammates who found their collegiate homes early, and he never panicked or started to wonder if his time would come. As he continued to grow physically and his game continued to evolve, it was clear that it wouldn’t take long for him to find a home.
“I’ve always had a pretty good stick for getting in passing lanes and picking up ground balls,” Bardak said. “As I went throughout high school, I started putting on more weight and I was able to play more physical and it’s easier for me to control guys now that I’m bigger. (Crush coach) Coach (Joe) Spallina has always said that the most imperative part of the game is your stickwork, and we work so hard on it. Playing for such a great coach who made us work on it 24/7 has been crucial. I’ve been with the Crush coaches forever and they’ve influenced me a lot. They’ve really been my only coaches growing up, so they’ve taught me everything I know. They’ve taught us how to play the game and to see the little things that most people don’t focus on. We’re a fancy team, but we’re also the most blue-collar team you’ll ever see.”
“I’m so incredibly proud of Chris,” Spallina said. “He is a Day 1 Crusher and I can tell you that Air Force got a kid that checks every box. He’s an incredible player with a world-class work ethic who also happens to be an unbelievable teammate and person. We’re fired up for him and can’t wait to see him dominate at Air Force.”