Brett Makar carried a piece of New York with him last season. Now it’s part of Atlas’ new identity

By Lauren Merola | Jan 8, 2024

Brett Makar had nearly two weeks from the time the New York Atlas selected him with the third pick in the 2023 College Draft to report to training camp in Albany, N.Y. Unsure of everything to pack, Makar — a 2023 graduate of Maryland — asked other former Terp lacrosse players in the PLL what to bring. “They all said if I had an extra blanket to bring it,” Makar said. So one of his family’s oldest blankets made the trip from his hometown, Yorktown Heights, N.Y., upstate with him.

No big deal. It was a blanket for extra comfort and “a little bit of a home feeling,” Makar said. It was just an instruction followed; at least that’s what he thought. 

Atlas defensive coordinator Kevin Unterstein couldn’t help but laugh when he saw the neatly sprawled Yorktown blanket over Makar’s bed, thinking of how Makar, the first player in Big Ten history to win back-to-back B1G Defensive Player of the Year honors, “still sleeps with a Yorktown football blanket,” Unterstein said last summer. The team quickly learned that Makar’s off-field demeanor belied that of his on-field belligerence.

“The coaches got a kick out of it. I know coach [Steven] Brooks took a picture of it and sent it around to the guys,” Makar said. “They were all busting my chops about it, but it’s a great blanket and anytime I get to rep Yorktown, I’m happy to.”

Makar retired the blanket after Albany, and it didn’t travel with him to any other tour stops over the season. But it very well could make its way back to Albany in 2024 for training camp and Atlas’ — and Makar’s — homecoming. The 2024 PLL season opens up in Albany, and it’ll be the first time the Atlas are playing in New York since being tethered to the state. 

Teams’ regional affiliations were announced on Nov. 14. It came around 2 p.m. in New York, so even though both of Makar’s parents were at work, “they were still blowing up my phone,” he said.

“Yorktown being a big lacrosse community, former high school coaches and teammates were fired up [about Atlas being in New York] as well.”

It was a full-circle moment for Makar, who wanted to be a Yorktown varsity lacrosse player in elementary school. Unlike the typical young New York fan at the time who grew up worshiping the likes of Carmelo Anthony, Derek Jeter or Eli Manning, Makar’s heroes were a “five minute car ride down the road” to Yorktown High School, he said. And he, like most of the town’s young players, went to the varsity lacrosse games stick in hand, hitting the wall between quarters.

Makar joined the Yorktown varsity lacrosse team and flourished on it. He became a five-star recruit, per Inside Lacrosse, and was ranked the No. 4 player and No. 2 defenseman in the Class of 2018. He found further success at Maryland, making it to the national championship in 2021 and winning it in 2022. In each Final Four, Makar only had to look up to feel at home.

“For anyone that’s been to an NCAA Final Four, you always see the Yorktown tailgate or the ‘Y in the sky’ where there’s a huge Yorktown flag waving in the air,” Makar said. “They’re the first people there as soon as the parking lot opens and the last people to leave after the championship game on Monday. I was fortunate to play in two Final Fours and have a ton of Yorktown support there. I’d expect that to continue with the Atlas.”

Now, with Makar back in a New York uniform for the first time since he was a senior in high school in 2018, it’s time for an Atlas flag to sit beside that ‘Y in the sky.’

“Nothing brings people together like sports, so hopefully the New York Atlas can have that same impact,” he said.