Lacrosse clubs sticking with it

Two clubs in the region seeing numbers, organization increase as sport gains exposure
By: Sara Seyydin Gold Country News Service
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The Woodcreek High and Sierra Foothills lacrosse clubs start each game with a face-off, but together, they’re expanding the sport in the foothills. Each club was started in the past few years by athletes and parents who share a passion for lacrosse and desire to help it spread locally. The Sierra Foothills Lacrosse Club was started by Trevor Robinson as part of his senior project. When tennis became boring to Robinson, then a Del Oro High School student, he realized the need for a lacrosse team and decided to fill that gap. With the help of his father, Kurt Robinson, now president of the club, they recruited members and began practices. They took their knowledge beyond the field, teaching at local schools about the history and dynamics that make lacrosse unique. “Its an hour and a half of nonstop action, unlike a lot of other sports,” Kurt Robinson said. “Each player is active, developing skills and using their brains.” Kurt fell in love with the game in the halls of his college fraternity, where he and his fraternity brothers, some of whom were two-time undefeated NCAA players at Cornell, would host games. He became convinced there was no other game like it and is addicted to this day. While Trevor now plays for UC Merced, Kurt continues to provide an outlet for local youth to learn a less mainstream sport. One of his veteran players, team captain Braden Ries, quit football after he was captivated by the nature of lacrosse and the close friendships he developed. “It’s a mixture of sports because it has the hitting of football and running of soccer,” Ries said. “We have a lot of team spirit, and it’s my friends and coach that keep me coming back to this team.” Now a four-year player, Ries also has competed on tournament teams with players from other clubs and hopes to play in college next year. He has relished in the club’s growth but still would like to see it become an official sport at Del Oro, where he attends. Woodcreek High School made the move two years ago, when a group of parents and students united to start the club. In its introductory year, 22 players comprised a JV team, and this year, the club doubled to about 50, fielding JV and varsity teams. Parent and club vice president David Liebler became involved to help share his passion for the sport with his sons, both of whom play for Woodcreek. He said an increase in national media coverage is a major factor in lacrosse’s regional growth. “Anytime you are bombarded with something, that increases exposure,” Lielbler said. “ESPN had a lot of lacrosse coverage, and I know my two boys were glued to it.” Watching lacrosse spark at Woodcreek has been rewarding for Liebler, and he hopes to create a strong program to leave there after his children move on to college. Liebler has spent the past year and a half learning more about the rules and regulations, like restrictions on uniforms and equipment, but he remains focused on instilling values of integrity and brotherhood to the players. Since lacrosse is still a relatively small sport in the area, he has noticed this camaraderie between teams. “You may deliver a big hit to someone and then pat them on the back and help them up,” Liebler said. “Kids play on tournament teams with kids from other schools, and there is just good blood overall.” In one event at Sacramento State, Woodcreek’s Zach Wilson was named all-tournament for his defense, showing he learned values and skills during his training. In an effort to get more kids involved, the club set up a booth at freshman orientation and has started a Facebook page to get potential players connected. They have held fundraising events and worked to keep dues as low as possible so the sport is accessible to everyone. Both clubs noted that as lacrosse popularity grows in the foothills, there is a need for female coaches and parents to start girls’ teams.