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It turns out that Cole Fairman came up big even as a baby.
Fairman, nicknamed Bubba for weighing close to 12 pounds at birth and having pudgy cheeks, has made an equally large impression on the lacrosse field. The Brighton freshman has played like a veteran in leading the Bengals to the semifinals of the Division I boys state championship tournament.
"I never thought I'd be doing this well," said Fairman, who had 61 points (36 goals and 25 assists) entering Tuesday's semifinal against Lone Peak. "My brothers helped me know what high school is like. You have to pay attention the whole game. You can't lose focus or track of what your goal is."
Fairman followed his brothers, Elias and Luke, into the high-school lacrosse ranks. Elias now is a freshman at Westminster College; Luke is a junior at Brighton. While the brothers are all solid in their own right, Bubba seems to be the one with unlimited potential, according to coaches.
"He's only going to get better," Brighton coach Brandon Horoba said. "He's probably one of the best freshmen, and he'll end up being one of the best [overall] in the state of Utah. It's pretty unusual for someone so young to be doing so well."
Fairman, 14, should be in eighth grade, but because he had an August birthday, his parents chose to enroll him in kindergarten early. He picked up lacrosse in fourth grade and has been wielding his stick ever since.
He smiles when opposing players and coaches realize how young he is.
"I take it as a compliment," Fairman said.
Not many freshmen in any sport have made the same kind of impact as Fairman. Having played lacrosse for several years and competing year-round, his skills are more refined than those of a beginning player.
"Having watched him play and develop, it's no shock that he's come in and been as successful as he has," Horoba said. "There are not very many kids that are as coachable as him. He's very polite, respectful and works hard. He's one of the most talented kids that have come through our program."
Fairman, who has converted 43 percent of his shot attempts (36 of 83), also has shown that he can share the ball. Players with his number of goals scored normally do not rank highly among the team leaders in assists.
"He works as hard as anyone else," Horoba said. "He's looking to feed as well and move the ball. He fills the lanes well, and his stick skills are phenomenal. He can handle a lot of passes that others can't. He has a really high lacrosse IQ."
Fairman grew up in American Fork before moving to the Sandy area when he was 6. His father, Jay, played high-school lacrosse in Boston, and Bubba and his brothers started out in baseball. Once he discovered lacrosse, he and his father would practice nearly every day of the week.
Before long, Fairman became better at the sport and honed his craft with the West Coast Stars and Utah Blackhawks travel teams.
"I still have to get better at dodging one-on-one and groundballs," he said.
With a 3.8 GPA, Fairman envisions going to medical school and playing lacrosse somewhere on the East Coast.