"He's got good skill and IQ, but really I think his top attributes are more on the intangible side," said Mountain Vista coach Jamie Munro, who happens to be Colin's father. "There's plenty of guys that are bigger, stronger, faster and just as skilled, but the real key is can you be a good teammate, can you work hard, can you come through for your team in good moments and can you be a smart player?
"We always talk about play hard, play smart, play together. I respect that about him more than anything else."
Munro won the prestigious Minto Cup championship in Canada this past summer — the 21-and-under national championship of the Junior-A league.
"He's spent the last seven summers up in Canada playing box lacrosse, which has been a game-changer for him as far as being able to learn how to play a brand of lacrosse that so many Americans don't get to," Munro said. "The Canadians are known for being the best goal scorers and stick handlers. They're really smart at moving off the ball because that's what their game teaches."
However, there's just one thing missing from the accolades: a CHSAA boys lacrosse state championship.
"We spent a lot of time in January and February just meeting as a team and talking about it," coach Munro said. "At the end of the day, you go into a year with the idea of wanting to be able to play for that championship on the last Friday of the season."
Mountain Vista boys lacrosse came oh-so-close to a birth in the Class 5A championship last year, but fell short in a 9-8 loss to Arapahoe in the semifinals. The previous year, the Golden Eagles lost 11-4 to Regis Jesuit in the semifinals.
"The goal is to definitely get past that," Munro said. "I know most guys have a pretty bitter taste in their mouths after last season. We want to play on the last day of the season."
This season, Munro and Mountain Vista believe they have the tools and ability — they're ready to get over that hump. The Golden Eagles are ranked No. 3 in the preseason.
"We've got the battle scars of experience," the elder Munro said. "I think this team is more focused on the process of trying to do it right and play the right way. We know we have the ability to win games, what we really have to be able to do is just to be consistent. We've lost in the semifinals the last two years, and we're hungry to take the next step and compete for a championship."
The Golden Eagles are returning five of their top goal-scorers from last year: Munro (54), Jake Govett (36), Jake Frane (27), Ryan Nunes (19) and Evan Place (19).
"We are an unselfish team, he's a pretty unselfish player," Jamie Munro said. "Guys are willing to play whatever position, including him. He played midfield as a freshman and attack as a sophomore. We just move it around and see what the team need and go out and do it."
Munro's experience with indoor lacrosse gives him a unique skillset that has resulted in prolific stats. Indoor lacrosse uses a smaller goal, with a lot of movement off the ball. Where field lacrosse tends to be a one-on-one game, indoor lacrosse tends to be a picking, cutting and feeding game.
"His real advantage, actually, is that he's received good opportunities to learn both games," Munro said. "To be able to deal with tighter confines, the physicality of box lacrosse – that chippy, in-your-face type of culture that you get in Canada, combined with what he's learned from field lacrosse. Everything from the X's and O's to the ability to dodge, it gives a good balance and versatility."
Munro's 84 points last year were second among juniors. He netted 54 goals, good for fifth best in Colorado — second for juniors.
"We have a really good offense and I think the best part about my points is they come off of team offense," Colin Munro said. "We do a really good job of playing together and then whoever ends up with the ball at the end gets the goals. I did a good job shooting last year, so that definitely helped."
The Munros credit Colin's success to having opportunities like spending the summer in Canada and playing club lacrosse, both against older competition. Munro played in British Columbia for the last two years, and in Ontario for five years prior.
"Especially playing in Canada this past summer – playing with 21-year-olds that are really tough and physical makes coming back to kids your own age a lot easier," Colin Munro said. "You get used to getting pounded all the time and when the pounding is not as gruesome, it makes a big difference.
"It really allowed me to be more of an off-ball guy and learn to play different ways than I have in the past. Instead of just playing with the ball in my stick, I played with the ball out of my stick. It helped to learn the game more, learn different parts of the game."
Another opportunity came as coach Munro had an 11-year stint as the head coach at the University of Denver.
"Definitely, that's going to set me up for college," Munro said. "I know what it's like, I'm ready to go. Being around all the college players all the time and seeing their work ethics and seeing how intense their practice is, I think I can definitely take a lot of that with me."
The Munros have been a player-coach duo since about first grade for Colin.
"It's been the best thing for me as a player," Munro said about his dad doubling as his coach. "Even though I know he definitely gets on me more than he gets on other players, he definitely knows what he's talking about. He makes me a great player. I listen and take everything in, try to do everything he asks to the best of my ability."
"I'm his dad and his coach, so I'm always going to be his biggest critic," Jamie Munro said. "It's a tough position to be in as the player of the coach of your dad. It's also a tough position to be in as the coach when your son is a player. I hold him to the standards that are important for us and he probably has to hear about it more than other players, but luckily he's got pretty thick skin, too, so it works out."
This will be the last year of that relationship. The elder Munro will be able to be dad watching his son, simply a fan of spectacular talent.
"It's going to be weird next year. It's bittersweet. I think it's going to be really weird to say goodbye to that special relationship that I have with him and his classmates," Munro said. "At the same time, I'm psyched for him to take his next step in life and go off to college. It's going to be sad to see him go, but happy for him. Then, I'm just a dad and I get to enjoy watching him."
Before Munro moves on, the Golden Eagles have some business to take care of.
"We all have a bitter taste in our mouth after last year," Colin Munro said. "Played three seasons, haven't gotten a chance to play in the final game of the season yet, and I think it would be really special to do it for my dad, the rest of the seniors and the Hermann family. It would mean a lot to me just to play in the championship game."
They start off with a home game March 10 against Legend. A week later, Mountain Vista has a date with the Arapahoe team that ended their season.
"I think we have a really good bond – especially in our offense," Colin Munro said. "We're moving the ball, sharing the ball, people know their roles. We have some big, athletic midfielders this year that will be able to make a difference. They're going to really put some pressure on other teams."
Coach Munro continually harped on doing things the "right way." Yes, the talent is there. Yes, the experience is there. But the process needs to be trusted.
"Are we showing up on time, are we doing the extra workouts, are we being good leaders and good followers, good students and good kids off the field? These all add up," Jamie Munro said. "Winning and losing, there can be some luck involved, but what doesn’t involve luck is doing it the right way."
Boys lacrosse preview
- Regular season begins: March 9
- Semifinals: May 17
- 5A/4A: May 19, Mile High Stadium, Denver
Returning all-state players:
- First Team: Colin Munro, Mountain Vista, A/M, Sr.; Asher Nolting, Cherry Creek, A, Sr.; Joey Soran, Regis Jesuit, D, Sr.
- Second Team: Chase Douglas, Arapahoe, A, Sr.; Hunter Graefe, Chaparral, LSM, Sr.; Mac Tezak, Regis Jesuit, D, Sr.
- First Team: August Johnson, Cheyenne Mountain, M, Jr.; Gianni Orlando, Valor Christian, M, Senior; Eric Pacheco, Valor Christian, M, So.; Gavyn Pure, Dawson School, A, Jr.
- Second Team: Ryan Burdi, Green Mountain, G, So.; Mason Meyer, Conifer, A, Jr.; Kyle Sudol, Dawson School, M, Jr.; Lance Tillman, Valor Christian, A, So.; Dalton Ziegler, Valor Christian, M, Sr.