At 5-foot-6 and barely 150 pounds, Teddy O'Reilly knows that the odds always have been against him in the traditional team sports.
Which is exactly why the Minnetonka senior has become so enamored with lacrosse.
Nimble and quick with exceptional hand-eye coordination, O'Reilly's passing and dead-eye shooting (a team-leading 45 points during the regular season) helped boost the Skippers to the No. 1 ranking in the state for the last three weeks. It also earned him a nomination as one of seven finalists for the Mr. Lacrosse award.
"My size is what I love about me," O'Reilly said. "It helps. I'd rather be small and quick and fast than be 200 pounds and barely able to move."
Staff writer Jim Paulsen talked with O'Reilly about a season in which he and the Skippers have, so far, exceeded all expectations.
Q: What has been the biggest factor in Minnetonka's success this season?
A: We've come together a lot more as a team. We've always been a team with a ton of individual talent, but this year we've put it all together and it fits. It's really something special.
Q: The team has won nine games in a row and took over the No. 1 ranking. Is that a big deal?
A: It is and it isn't. It's a great feeling being on top, but when you're on top, there's only one way to go and that's down.
Q: Are you saying that you have more pressure on you to win?
A: We do have a target on our backs. But when it comes down to the game itself, we know when it's time to just go and play.
Q: Congratulations on being selected as a Mr. Lacrosse finalist.
A: Thanks. It's awesome and a great feeling, but it's really all about the team. It's a great group and I'm really lucky to be playing with a team like this.
Q: Obviously, you've done a few things right that have gotten noticed. What sets you apart?
A: I think it's my quickness. And I just love the game. I've been playing since I was in fifth grade. I played other sports, but lacrosse was always just a little more fun than the others.
Q: Can you pick out one moment that stands out this season?
A: When we beat Benilde-St. Margaret's. They're the defending champs, but our team was working on all cylinders. We all played our best game of the year.
Q: What is one thing you must do before a game?
A: I always do my eye black the same way, pretty much across my whole face. I started doing it last year and now, if I don't, I feel like I have an off game.
Q :Who is your biggest rival?
A: Probably Eden Prairie. We split the series with them; They won the first one and we won the second.
Q: Is there a little bad blood there?
A: Not really. A lot of us play together on summer teams. We're all pretty friendly, but we take it seriously when we're on the field. Everybody wants to win.
Q: When the team is playing this well, how much fun is it?
A: This is easily the most fun I've ever had playing lacrosse. Being a senior and having all this experience and playing together with the guys on this team has been awesome.