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'Beestly Spotlight: Lacrosse Newcomer to International Competitor | Cody Xu ’25 Reflects on Leadership and Life-Changing Friendship

'Beestly Spotlight: Lacrosse Newcomer to International Competitor | Cody Xu ’25 Reflects on Leadership and Life-Changing Friendship

Prior to his freshman year, SSFS boarding student Cody Xu ’25 had never touched a lacrosse stick.

By the spring of his junior year, he was competing alongside top DI players for his home country China in the Hong Kong Open.

Cody’s extraordinary lacrosse journey began at his friend Luke Amberman ’25’s house, where Cody saw a lacrosse stick for the very first time. Cody remembers it vividly. “I said, ‘What is that?! A farmer thing?’ I had never heard of lacrosse.”

It didn’t take long for Cody to figure things out, especially when Luke urged him to pick up a stick. With a mix of curiosity and confusion, Cody took his first tentative steps onto the lacrosse field, a decision that would ultimately lead him to top-level competition in Hong Kong from March 28-31.

"I play basketball, so I was in shape from that," Cody recalls with a chuckle. "Luke taught me how to shoot and pass, and how to become a good attackman." 

But he didn’t stay an attackman for long. By sophomore year, Luke got in Cody’s ear again— this time about Sandy Spring Friends’ need for a goalie. 

Before Cody knew it, he was seeing balls fly at his face at 90 mph. “I didn’t want to play goalie at first—I wanted to stay an attackman—to take shots and look cool—but we didn’t have a goalie my sophomore year,” he reflects. 

Luke didn’t leave him in the lurch.

Cody Xu in goal and Luke Amberman no. 16

Teammate, friend, and greatest supporter #16 Luke Amberman '25, with Cody Xu '25 in goal.

“Luke has probably taken 1,000 shots on me. It’s the best way to improve. His family will pick me up from the dorm, and he’ll take shots on me in his backyard. It’s great practice since he’s a great attackman and midi…he’s fast and precise with his shots. He’s been one of the most influential people in my lacrosse journey.”

Sandy Spring Friends is a small school compared to many of its lacrosse competitors, which include the likes of Georgetown Prep, Gonzaga, and St. Paul’s, and at times, fielding a full team—much less a competitive one—has seemed, in Cody’s words, “like an impossible mission.” 

He’s quick to consider the positives, though. “For us, as a small school, everyone has a relationship with each other. It’s like a brotherhood—a sense of community and belonging in your ’Beest heart.” 

Beyond his fulfilling experience as a ’Beestly team member, Cody’s willingness to fill SSFS’ goalie void turned out to be a transformative decision. 

“As goalie, I have to be vocal. The team listens and provides me with feedback. I’ve had to keep my head on straight in several tough games. A lot of guys on the team are new to lacrosse, and not everyone takes it as seriously as I do. But everyone at Sandy Spring Friends has a sense of belonging, and the whole team knows what the goal is.”

Cody poignantly reflects on the interconnectedness of the highs and lows of the team experience. “Recently, after a win, one of our defenders threw me up in the air in the joy of victory—I’m almost crying right now. After many losses, it was a big moment and made me want to keep getting better and be a better teammate. Being a great leader isn’t about dominating. It’s about teaching other people to become leaders.”

Quote about being a great leader

As Cody grew in his love of the sport and commitment to personal improvement, he happened upon China’s team. “I’d look for videos on YouTube of drills to help me improve. AI eventually sent me reels of Team China. I connected with the Coach on WeChat, and I eventually filled out forms, submitted films, and tried out.”

Team China in Hong Kong

Team China at the Hong Kong Open; Cody is #53, center of 2nd row.

In June 2023, he received the momentous news—at the youngest end of the eligible 17-30 age range, he had been selected to represent Team China, a dream come true for the young athlete. "When you see your name on that roster, it’s not joy you feel," Cody remembers. "It was more of a sense of commitment and pride in representing my country."

Even as the backup goalie, he saw playing time in each game, and the team placed third in the tournament—a historic result—facing off against strong teams from Singapore, Japan, Taipei, and Hong Kong. 

Team China with Team Japan at Hong Kong Open

Team China with Team Japan at Hong Kong Open; Cody is fourth from left in 2nd row

You might wonder how a high schooler keeps up with assignments when flying around the globe to represent his home country in goal. Cody concludes, “It was my choice to go to play for team China, and it was worth it, despite the 25 hours on a plane. My teachers were flexible and are helping me make up the work I missed.”

What’s next for Cody?

“If you want to be good at a sport, you can’t just be hungry for the games. You have to be committed to practice, and then the victory will come. I haven’t reached victory yet. For me, victory would be representing China in the 2028 Olympics.”

Cody shares, “I still have a lot to improve on, and I’ll keep doing wall balls for hours—like I did last summer, six days a week at 5:00 am before my ACT/SAT prep class—or whatever it takes. Success takes personal sacrifice, and the hard work is absolutely worth it.”

Cody Xu quote: success takes personal sacrifice

 

 

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