Playing for SLU is Family Business

For two soon-to-be St. Lawrence University Saints, representing the Scarlet and Brown is a family affair. Both Chris Downs and Daniel Mahoney will follow in their brothers’ footsteps and play for their fathers as members of SLU’s basketball and lacrosse teams, respectively.

For Head Men’s Lacrosse Coach Mike Mahoney, adding his youngest son will mean coaching all three of his children. Mark Mahoney is set to enter his fifth year with the program, taking advantage of an extra year of eligibility due to COVID, while John Mahoney is gearing up for his junior campaign. 

Chris Downs, St. Lawrence’s head men’s basketball coach, will add his youngest son to the roster to play alongside older brother Andy, who is entering his junior year at SLU.

While Mahoney and Downs have their own unique experiences and obstacles to face, Downs said having a fellow coach who can lend some advice has been beneficial. 

“(Mahoney) and I have talked about coaching our own kids. I’ve asked for his counsel many times,” Downs said. “It’s a blessing and a curse for all, including moms, to have dad be your college coach.” 

Downs Trio Takes to the Hardwood

A four-year member of Canton Central’s boys basketball team, Chris Downs will be the third member of his family to join the roster for the St. Lawrence University men’s basketball team this winter. His father is eager to work with his sons to build something together. 

“I think it’s going to be fun,” the eldest Downs said. “The competition between the two, the sibling rivalry? That’s a thing of the past. They are excited to work together, support each other and try and win at the next level.”

Downs, who played forward for the Golden Bears for the past four years, was named Section X Central Division MVP and was recognized as the Joe Jukowski award winner in his senior season. The First Team All-Northern selection averaged 20 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks per game. He will begin his first year at St. Lawrence in the fall, a decision he said he came to near the beginning of his senior basketball season.

“I officially decided on SLU around last November, I was stuck between Hobart William Smith and SLU,” Downs said. “I loved both schools but realized I only liked Hobart because of its similarity to SLU. This realization made me ultimately choose St. Lawrence. Playing for my dad is something I’ve always wanted to do so when he did offer me a chance to play it meant a lot.”

Downs admits he initially wanted to leave the North Country for school to experience something new, but never seemed to find a school he felt was on par with his hometown university. This, coupled with the childhood memories of his father’s team solidified his resolve to play at home. 

“Growing up watching all the games I remember the years SLU had a lot of success and I’ve always wanted to be a part of,” Downs said. “I remember riding the bus with the team when I was younger, taking trips to road games. I always liked how close the guys on the team were and always thought how fun it’d be to play on a team like that.”

Coach Downs allowed his youngest son the space to make his own decision, and believes the influence he received as a player at Canton was valuable to his commitment to St. Lawrence as well.

“Chris Jr’s decision to play college basketball came really late,” Downs said. “I credit (Canton Athletic Director and Assistant Basketball Coach) Bill Porter and (Canton Head Coach) Troy Lassail. They just kind of let Chris be Chris. They realized early on that he wasn’t Andy and they encouraged him to find his own path and everyone was OK with that.” 

The youngest Downs welcomes the challenge he faces.

“I’m super excited to be playing with Andy and my dad,” he said. “I know my dad is going to be tough on me and expect a lot. I look at it as a good thing. I’d rather have him have very high expectations rather than not care or not push me as hard.” 

Youngest Mahoney Commits to Family Legacy

From left, John, Pam, Mike, Daniel, and Mark Mahoney. (Photo courtesy of Daniel Mahoney)

Although he will return to Choate Rosemary Hall for a second year of prep school in the fall, Daniel Mahoney already knows he will return to Canton to play for his father upon graduating high school. 

Mahoney said he mostly spoke with Offensive Coordinator Tom Ryan throughout the recruitment process and called him to finalize his decision earlier this summer.

“I made the decision in early July,” Mahoney said. “There was no deadline that I set for myself, but at that point I had narrowed things down and just tried to block out all of the outside factors and just focus on what I wanted to do.”

Mahoney will be a member of the class of 2027 at St. Lawrence. Repeating his junior year this past season, Mahoney tallied 23 goals and 35 points at attack for Choate Rosemary Hall, both team leading marks, and was awarded the Coaches’ Award. Prior to his departure for prep school, Mahoney captained the Canton Golden Bears and led the team with 35 goals and 40 assists, and was named First Team All-Northern as a member of the Section X Champion Golden Bears. 

His time at Choate allowed Mahoney to mature as a player, but also strengthened the case for St. Lawrence as his collegiate choice. 

“I think being away at prep school for this past year and next year made me realize how much I like St. Lawrence and being around Canton,” he said.

Mahoney will miss the opportunity to play with his oldest brother, Mark, who will graduate in 2023. However, he is eager to join middle brother, John, and also to play for his father. 

“I am super pumped to get to play with John again. I haven’t played with him since my freshman year in high school. He is a great player and an extremely hard worker so just to be able to compete with him every day will be a blast,” he said. “I am also excited to work with my dad. Even though he works with the defense and I’m an offensive player it will be a good challenge playing for him because I know the standards he holds his players to and trying to go out everyday and not only meet, but exceed those standards will be a great challenge.”

While he explored other opportunities to continue his education and career, Mahoney said he always knew in the back of his mind that he wanted to land at St. Lawrence. This sentiment took root throughout his childhood, when Mahoney could be found filling water bottles or shagging balls for his father’s team. He looks forward to being part of the process at St. Lawrence.

“I’ve seen first-hand the sacrifice that so many people have put into this program, and I think that just adds to the motivation to do everything I can to help the team win,” Mahoney said.

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