Michael Tagliaferri has been home in Danville maybe three days since graduating in June from San Ramon Valley High School.
Actually, he missed his graduation ceremony. And his grad night. And other festivities.
But ... he has a gold medal to show for it.
"I flew back and forth across the country eight times, and I missed high school graduation," Tagliaferri said in an interview after the win. "But it wasn't about me, it was for the letters on the front of my jersey."
Tagliaferri, currently a Tar Heels freshman at the University of North Carolina, was hand-picked for team 2012 Federation of International Lacrosse (under-19) Men’s World Championships, held in Turku, Finland.
The team was whittled from candidates from 15 different states, and Tagliaferri made the cut -- which meant he was whisked off last spring for world-team training on the East coast.
The 19-year-old son of Danville's John and Carol Tagliaferri, was the first lax-playing Californian to make a U.S. national team at any level.
Akin to the Olympics, the world lacrosse championships are held every four years. And in Finland in July 2012, Team USA took the first-place, gold-medal win over teams from Canada, England, Finland, Germany, Australia and even the first Native-American lacrosse team to compete internationally, the Iroquois Nationals.
Tagliaferri, a SRVHS standout on the lacrosse and football fields, was named the state’s top lacrosse player as both a junior and senior during his high school days.
He also was Under Armour All-America and a two-time league MVP, plus a U.S. Lacrosse All-America as both a SRVHS junior and senior.
Tagliaferri's philosophy to sports and life: Never back down.
"The best advice I've ever gotten: Work hard and never give up," he said.
"I've been in countless situations, mostly in athletics, where things do not seem possible. The team doesn't seem like it can come back. A season is basically over. Or an individual is over-matched. But through it all, you never know where hard work will take you. For that reason, never give up. You never know where it will go."
For a look back at the summer 2012 games, view the FIL U19 World Lacrosse Championship Facebook page here.