No ReLAXing: Focus On, Off Field Pays Dividends For van Raaphorst

Cade van Raaphorst has seen father Jeff’s success on television replays, specifically the 1987 Rose Bowl where the elder van Raaphorst led Arizona State to a win over then quarterback Jim Harbaugh, legendary head coach Bo Schembechler and the Michigan Wolverines in Pasadena.

Now Cade is ready to create his own collegiate success next year in a different sport as a different Devil.

The Desert Vista High senior will be a playing lacrosse at Duke after receiving a scholarship to join the defending back-to-back national champion Blue Devil program.

It’s the icing on the cake for the 6’2, 208-pound defender who was recently named an Under Armour All-American.

Van Raaphorst also played quarterback and linebacker for Dan Hines’ Thunder football team but found his true passion wearing a different helmet and set of pads.

“I was presented with the unique opportunity to play a new sport,” van Raaphorst told before their win over Gilbert last week. “Once I started I couldn’t put my stick down.”

It started back in fourth grade when the van Raaphorst’s were approached by Matt Rakowski, a former University of Virginia standout player and Wall Street Banker, who moved from New York City to Ahwatukee and formed a youth lacrosse league in 2003.

Players were needed.

The rest is history.

“I thought Cade would be a stud lacrosse player as soon as he stepped on the practice field,” Rakowski explained to “He has always been a big, powerful, enthusiastic kid, with a high athletic IQ and great footwork.”

He committed to Duke as a sophomore and recently received the news he was officially set to call Durham, North Carolina home for the next four years after considering interest from arch-rival North Carolina, Notre Dame and some Ivy League schools.

“The difference in lacrosse and football is that kids don’t de-commit,” Jeff van Raaphorst said of Cade’s lengthy recruiting process. “When teams start to fill out their spots you either got to take one or you’re gone. He had a spot where he could sort of choose where he wanted to play and he took a great school in Duke.”

Cade has not only led DV, the defending state champs who are a perfect 10-0 this year in league play, on the field but has set the tone off it focusing equal or more time on his academics and paving the way to attend prestigious university.

“I think he worked really hard academically and stretched himself,” Cade’s mother Chris van Raaphorst noted. “Took courses he may not have taken. No pushing needed there.”

van Raaphorst won’t be the only Duke lacrosse player with football family bloodlines. The late, great NFL star linebacker Junior Seau’s son Jake is a freshman midfielder for the Blue Devils.