Lacrosse is the Newest SCV Prep Sport
And it's Growing
July, 2013 - Issue #105
The footsteps on fields across the Santa Clarita Valley are getting louder. Lacrosse is here and it's growing.

West Ranch High fielded the first CIF-sanctioned prep team this past spring. Local lacrosse experts say Valencia High is next in 2014 and Hart is not too far off. On top of that, youth lacrosse is being played throughout the Santa Clarita Valley by boys and girls, and former players of the sport are passing on their knowledge to others in efforts to train potential coaches.

"I do demos at junior highs. I will rocket the ball across the gym with these 'alien-esque' helmets and ask kids to try it; they come running out of the stands," said Steve Tyson, a local lacrosse coach who was one of the key people who gave the sport a jumpstart in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Tyson has worked with the William S. Hart Union High School District since 2001 in attempts to grow the sport and promote it at the high-school level. That year, the former Bethany College lacrosse player was the head coach of the Saugus High School club team.

"Give this sport another three years. IT WILL EXPLODE,"
Tony Moskal
Today, he coaches a Hart team made up of mostly Hart High and Valencia High students who play in the Pacific Lacrosse League, which is made up of teams from areas like the Santa Clarita Valley, Orange County, Pasadena, Simi Valley and other LA communities.

Tyson said there is enough financial backing and parent support for a Valencia team to earn CIF status and compete next spring.

West Ranch became the first, mostly because of a youth organization called the Santa Clarita Wildcats.

There are five teams in the youth organization - four boys teams (U15, U13, U11) and a girls team (for fourth, fifth and sixth graders).

"We are trying to focus on growing the girls game," said SC Wildcats President Matt Flynn. "We offer so many men's sports [in the Wildcats program]. Even though a girl could play in our lacrosse program and football program, we wanted equal footing. We thought it would be something nice to do but not easy to do, [to] find the players and coaches. It shows the strength of a program."

Flynn and other local experts said one of the biggest challenges of building lacrosse programs locally is the lack of experienced coaches who can properly teach the kids.
Tony Moskal, who also coaches golf at Golden Valley High School, is a former Loyola Marymount lacrosse player who has coached in the Wildcats program the last four years. Moskal, also a longtime television color commentator and an authority on sports in the Santa Clarita Valley, said it's a matter of time before the sport really hits its stride locally.

"Give this sport another three years. It will explode," Moskal said.

However, Moskal said the sport isn't cheap.
"Eventually the problem some schools will run into is finances," he said. "It is an expensive sport."

Yet West Ranch High got the support to make sure that wasn't an issue.

"...We were really able to accomplish something," said West Ranch Head Coach Paul Gordon. "We'll look back at the entire season and say we had a great lacrosse team and left a huge impact."

Gordon, a former lacrosse player and Valencia resident who was recruited to coach, led a team that finished 6-9 overall.
But if you were there for the first-ever home game at West Ranch High, you could feel the sort of buzz the sport created.

On March 28, there was a game on the field between West Ranch High School players and Simi Valley High players. Sure, there was parental support and support from administration there. But there was something else that said something about the sport's future in the SCV.

Just beyond the south net, a group of about 20 kids - mostly elementary school and junior high school aged - were playing the sport on their own, their footsteps creating its own noise.

"Lacrosse is relatively new in the area," Gordon said. "Everyone was really curious. Once they watched the game, they were fascinated. It was exciting to watch a lot of kids who haven't played [before] say they want to play."
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