NEWBERRY — Mauldin, S.C. is the home of about 24,000 citizens. Originally called “Butler’s Crossing,” the area was renamed “Mauldin” in 1820 for Lt. Gov. W. L. Mauldin. Within the city is Mauldin High School, a Class AAAAA school that has a rich lacrosse history. About 54 miles down the highway from Mauldin is Newberry College, where six Mauldin High School lacrosse alumni took their talents.
The Mavericks have been a dominant program for the past couple of years, finishing the 2017 season with a 16-1 record. The team would make it to the semifinals of the Class AAAAA State Championship, but would fall to Wando, who would go on to win the championship. Under the direction of Head Coach Bryan Schramm, the Mavs are currently 5-0 on the season.
Schramm, head coach for the men’s lacrosse team at Mauldin had nothing but good things to say the six student-athletes.
“The pleasure of being able to work with all the men in this group was truly special. I treasure the time we were able to spend growing as a team and building this program together. It was a complete honor to coach each and everyone of them,” he said.
Hailing from Mauldin, TJ Pratt comes to the Newberry program after being a member of the 2017 Mavericks team that went 10-0 in conference. Deciding to come to Newberry was almost a no-brainer for Pratt.
“It definitely helped knowing that I had friends that were coming here with me. I had family here at Newberry and we just wanted to keep the moral high,” he said.
“TJ’s highlight moment was in two separate games his senior year when he completely stole the show. He came off the bench after dressing as a defense-man to start the game. He added major momentum to our season, not just those specific games,” Schramm said.
Gunner Cisko, also a native of Mauldin, made his way to Newberry after having a successful career with the Mavs. The forensic psychology student totaled nine goals and launched off 31 shots on frame during the 2017 season. Cisko was awarded the “Mr. Hustle” award in 2016 and “Most Improved” award in 2017.
He credits his parents for his upbringing and his lacrosse journey.
”My parents raised me to never give up on my dream. From the time I picked up a lacrosse stick, I knew this is what I wanted to do. I set my sights on playing collegiately and here I am,” he said.
Cisko’s decision to come to Newberry was unlike any of his teammates. He previously committed to another lacrosse program, he had his mind made up. It wasn’t until the Wolves Head Coach Nick Cotter contacted him that he realized he wanted to be apart of Newberry’s lacrosse legacy.
“Coach Cotter contacted me and came out to watch the team play. A few of us came up for a visit the next weekend. After talking to coach and my parents, I knew I wanted to be apart of this history,” said Cisko.
Known for being a great utility player, Cisko can be put anywhere on the field and is able to produce. The swift midfielder is able to advance the ball and put his team in the position to score.
“Mr. Do it All,” is how Schramm described the 5-6 freshman.
“If there was a job to do, Cisko was ready for the job. Every team needs a guy who loves to fill a role, especially when he is smart enough to see how important that role can be,” he said.
Just 11 minutes down the highway in Simpsonville is history major Steven Ranck. He was on the varsity team at Mauldin for two years where he racked up accolades including team captain and the “Team Leader” award. As a junior he tallied 10 goals and 20 assists, while his senior year saw an increased production with 20 goals and 19 assists.
Ranck came to Newberry because of the distance to home. With it being a first-year program, he saw an opportunity for playing time. Being able to play alongside teammates that he’s known since sixth grade was also an added bonus.
“We have great chemistry. I also knew it would be nice to have longtime friends by my side in this new step of my life,” Ranck said.
Schramm has nothing but good things to say about the freshman.
“Ranck was a guy who started out as a long shot, and worked his way into being the engine for our offense his senior year. If the team ever hit a lull in offense, all we had to do was put Steven in and watch him spin,” he said.
Ranck had no problem crediting his dad for the player and man he is today.
“Looking at how successful and driven my dad’s personality is has truly taught me what it’s like to be a man,” he said.
Also hailing from Simpsonville is Walker Starr. Starr picked up numerous awards and honors during his time at Mauldin. He was a three-time “Max Prep Player of the Game.” Starr was also an All-County, All-Region and All-State honoree.
During his senior season he picked up 39 goals, 31 assists, and 90 ground balls. In the match up with Wade Hampton on March 24, Starr launched off seven goals and put 87% of his shots on frame. He scored his first collegiate goal in the Wolves 11-7 win over Alderson-Broaddus.
“No matter if it was midfield, attack, defense or offense, Walk could play it. Whatever he set his mind to, he would succeed at it,” Schramm said.
Starr had many trials and tribulations during his lacrosse career, suffering from a collarbone injury twice during his stint at Mauldin. However, going through the injury, but his parents and Schramm, morphed him into the man and lacrosse player he is today.
He decided on Newberry because it was a first-year program and his chance of playing was high. Starr’s impressive lacrosse IQ and athleticism is what he believes will assist the team with a successful season.
“I was excited and nervous to start playing lacrosse collegiately. Attending a new school was nerve-wracking, but knowing I had my former teammates with me made the transition easier,” he said.
Matt Butler, a 5-11 goalie from Simpsonville had a successful career with the Mauldin lacrosse program. Butler started in all 17 contests his senior season He was awarded “Player of the Game” in the match-up against Nation Ford.
He finished his career with Mauldin recording 475 career saves. He also tallied 32 career wins and saved 66% of shots thrown his way. Butler held the captain position for two seasons with the Mavs and was also a two-time All-Region and Second Team All-State selection. Butler was a Greenville County “Player of the Year” finalist.
Butler made his way to Newberry because of the opportunity to play college lacrosse with some of his best friends.
“We wanted to set history here as a first-year program, and have fun in the process,” he said
“Ice earned his nickname for having the perfect attitude for playing the goalie position. He took every moment as if it was his last. Butler led by example when the pressure was on and he never wavered from what we were trying to accomplish,” Schramm said.
Rounding out the group is Zeb Sneed of Mauldin, he was a dual sport athlete, competing in football and lacrosse. He was a lacrosse All-Region selection in both his junior and senior years. In football, Sneed was honored with an All-Region selection.
The youngest of five children, Sneed was raised by his mother.
“I grew up in a household that taught me a lot about pushing myself to the best of my ability. My family instilled in me to have a strong work ethic and never let anyone stand in your way of doing anything,” he said.
Aside from playing lacrosse, Sneed believes he brings the athleticism that the team needs.
“In no way am I saying that I am the best lacrosse player on the team. However, I do believe my athletic ability and history in other sports gives me an edge on the field,” he said.
His teammates deciding to also attend Newberry helped his decision.
“It’s nice to have a sense of home here with you. The familiarity we have with each other helps us on the field as well. I believe our group has a good chance at making a difference here,” he said.
Taft Matney, who sits on the City Council for the City of Mauldin had many praises for the “Mauldin Six.”
“Watching the way they interacted with the community as a unit was great, and they displayed leadership in every aspect. From their school spirit to participating in student government, the City of Mauldin is very proud of them and their growth as leaders,” he said.