Lacrosse players battle on and off the field
April 13, 2011
By Sebastian Moraga
The team is young, the score is lopsided — the wrong way — and the fans are few and far between.
But one thing you won’t find at a Mount Si Lacrosse Club match is anybody feeling sorry for himself. These teenagers would probably turn down arriving at the prom with America’s Next Top Model if it conflicted with a game.
The intensity never wavers, either on the sideline or on the field. The running never stops and on this chilly Seattle afternoon, every bead of sweat is earned.
The opponent is big, speedy Ballard, an established team when compared with 1-year-old Mount Si. Decked in black and orange, their school colors although they are a club team, Ballard plays with the kind of coordination that only comes with time and know-how. Pretty soon, the game is out of reach for the boys in red and gray, but they never stop hustling. It’s as if they know that there’s a dozen other red-clad folks standing on the sidelines, raring to go.
The star of the team today is the boy at goalie, sophomore Matt Yan, who stopped several shots from becoming Ballard goals. No small feat when considering the Beavers’ firepower, and when considering what stopping those shots entails.
“It takes a special kind of crazy to play goalie,” said Yan, a second-year player. “You got balls going 75, 76 mph at you and you block ‘em. But I guess I like the challenge.”
Yan said the team was going through goalies like “a dime a dozen” last year when he tried out.
“Figured out I loved it,” he said.
Head Coach Woodroe Kiser said Yan is not alone when it comes to falling in love with the sport.
Besides Yan’s team, the Mount Si Lacrosse Club has two girls’ teams, two teams at the seventh- and eighth-grade levels, a team for second-, third- and fourth-graders, and a team for fifth- and sixth-graders.
The club is pretty new, said Kiser, a teacher at Snoqualmie Middle School, but lacrosse is booming.
“We got all kinds of stuff going on,” he said. “The high school levels have really been coming on. Youth teams have been popping up everywhere.”
Historically an East Coast sport, lacrosse has arrived west, with more than 100 teams for boys and girls in the state, he said.
“The sport is really catching on,” he added.
While the sport catches fire, some of its acolytes catch guff.
“My friends say ‘Yaaaaay, lacrosse, yeah!” said Cameron Pike, one of Kiser’s charges, the cheer dripping with sarcasm. The mocking tone pokes at the sport’s obscurity when compared to football or baseball.
Yan said some of his friends don’t even know what lacrosse is.
A former football lineman, Yan said lacrosse has his old sport beat when it comes to intensity and fitness. Football is more stop-and-go. If you play lacrosse, there’s no “stop-and,” he said.
Yan said lacrosse does not deserve its reputation as a rich man’s sport.
“None of us is rich,” he said.
Kiser said there might be some truth to the legend. To start at soccer you need shinguards, shoes and a ball. To start out at lacrosse, you need a month’s rent.
“The initial cost is quite heavy,” he said. “You are looking at your $200 helmet, a stick that can go anywhere from $100-$250, and then the gloves, the chest protector and the shoulder pads.”
It helps the team that the Valley is not short on well-off families, Kiser said. Nevertheless, he insists lacrosse is for everybody, not just the Lexus set.
“If you want to play, we’ll make it happen,” he said, adding that former players donate or sell their gear cheap.
“Once they get into it, kids love it. It’s so cool,” Kiser said.
So far, the going has been rough. In one-plus seasons, the team has one win, and on this day, Ballard dominated, winning 14-1. Still, you won’t find anybody pouting behind those masks. Or behind the boys with the masks.
“We got Liberty next week,” a fan said. “Big game.”
If Kiser gets his way, there might be plenty of big games ahead for the lacrosse boys.
“We’ve got a lot of kids coming up,” Kiser said. “Lot bigger. I see them competing in the playoffs. We keep progressing as we are, hopefully we’ll be in the state championship one of these days.”
Sebastian Moraga: 392-6434, ext. 221, or firstname.lastname@example.org. On the Web