male student on lacrosse pitch

Alum Athlete Spotlight: Joe Rees ’20


After a long time off due to Covid, alumni Joe Rees is finally getting back onto the lacrosse field.

After graduating from Williston this past Spring, Joe, from Amherst, Massachusetts, moved on to Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York, where he will be able to continue his academic career while also getting the chance to play lacrosse. Joe committed to Clarkson during the fall of his senior year, and has been preparing himself for that next step ever since.

Although it has been challenging with Covid regulations, Joe has enjoyed getting back to school and lacrosse in a new environment this year.

“The semester is two weeks shorter than normal and classes meet less than they should to keep everybody socially distanced,” he said. “Because of that the learning has been a bit challenging. Although Covid has allowed limited practices, we started up with 25-man practices a couple weeks ago. [It’s] been pretty fun to be back on the field playing the sport I love.”

Joe had a desire to play lacrosse at the next level since his time at Williston, but he didn’t let that get in his way of attending a good academic institution. He chose Clarkson because of the high level academics and lacrosse program that they had to offer.

“The major selling point for Clarkson was the combination of competitive lacrosse and a strong engineering program,” he said. “Although both you and I share a strong passion for the game of lacrosse, it still isn’t nearly as important as academics. I knew if I was going to continue playing the sport, I needed a place I could get the educated I desired, and Clarkson was that fit.”

Clarkson’s engineering school offers 10 different undergraduate engineering programs, including aeronautical, electrical, and software engineering.

Now that he’s moved onto Clarkson, Joe is realizing the great college preparation that Williston gave him during his time there. He has felt confident about balancing his work load and his lacrosse training, and he understands how to reach out and get help when it’s needed.

“Williston has had a much bigger influence on me than I ever expected,” he said. “First, I feel much more prepared for balancing my workload than others, especially mixed with athletics and training. Also, Williston taught me not to be afraid to ask for help when I need it. I’ve really got accustomed to going to office hours to ask questions when confused and get that extra bit of support.”

Connor Mooney, Head Coach of Williston’s varsity lacrosse team, had the chance to coach Joe for three seasons, and saw first hand the type of work ethic he had towards lacrosse and his academics. He believes that the preparation from Williston has helped set Joe on the path to success at Clarkson.

“Joe will have a positive impact as a student athlete at Clarkson,” he said. “I think he found the perfect fit playing in one of the best leagues in D-3 in the Liberty League while also pursuing his degree in engineering. Student athletes that have gone through Williston graduate well prepared for competing at the college level.”

After three years of watching Joe develop at Williston, Coach Mooney is confident that he will continue to improve his game at Clarkson. He was able to work himself up through the program until he was eventually named as one of four captains during his senior year.

“Joe has been the most improved player that I have coached at Williston,” he told The Willistonian. “He saw a few minutes of playing time as a sophomore and took a huge jump as a junior, starting and often covering the number one attackman of the opposition. He was extremely coachable and always worked on improving his game.”

Joe was a great leader during his time at Williston, and helped serve as an example for other players looking to make an impact on the program. His attitude and work ethic will help him leave a similar impact at Clarkson.

“Joe has left a strong impact on the Williston lacrosse program, mainly in showing our younger players the right way to do things,” he added. “He had a strong work ethic, positive attitude, while also demanding the best from his teammates. Joe will be a great teammate and continue to make big strides for Clarkson.”