NCAA lacrosse growth opportunity for Washington state high school players

SEATTLE – Fueled by an increase in NCAA teams, the health of lacrosse is at an all-time high in Washington state with high school student-athletes finding more opportunities to play collegiately in what has become the fastest growing sport among Division I, II and III colleges.


Bellevue High School’s Cole Johnson (left) drives against a player from Oregon’s Lincoln High School during the 2013 prep lacrosse season. Johnson, along with Wolverine teammate Dakota Jones, will play for Army this spring. The two are among 10 high school lacrosse players from the state that will play NCAA Div. I lacrosse. (Photo: Molly Piper)

For state lacrosse leaders, the sport’s fitness is measured both in its growing popularity among youth and high school students, but also by the path to NCAA schools for student-athletes.

“The amount of teams that have come on line in the last decade is an opportunity for high school student-athletes in the state,” said Liana Halstead head women’s lacrosse coach at Division III University of Puget Sound, the only NCAA school in Washington state to offer the sport, but among of a growing number of schools to embrace it.

According to the NCAA’s 2012-13 participation report released last week, the addition of new lacrosse programs among NCAA schools topped all other sports with schools adding 26 men’s teams and 40 women’s teams during the 2012-13 academic year.

In fact, lacrosse growth outpaced several sports historically sought by schools looking to increase intercollegiate athletic participation.  Among them; men’s indoor track, which increased by 23 teams, men’s cross country, adding 17 and women’s golf and women’s indoor track and field, which added 30 and 27 teams respectively.

And that’s good news for high school student-athletes choosing lacrosse as their spring sport said Dave Low, president of the Washington State Chapter of US Lacrosse.

“Opportunities for student-athletes to play lacrosse at the collegiate level are much greater today then when I played,” said Low, who stood out as a midfielder at Division III Middlebury College in the 1990s and later coached the boys varsity at Washington state’s Bainbridge High School.  “Historically the top NCAA programs were in the Ivy League and ACC,” he said.  “Today there are more scholarships for men and women in Division I programs all across the country and more Division II and III schools have added the sport.”

For students-athletes across the state, the viability of lacrosse at the NCAA level is not just energizing the sport at high schools from the Inland Empire to the Olympic Peninsula, but it’s driving demand for new programs creating stronger competition and ultimately better lacrosse players.

Following a year where six new high school programs began state play – including four in Spokane, high schools that have taken on lacrosse, either at the varsity or club level, have placed a record 53 graduating seniors on NCAA or NAIA varsity lacrosse squads for the upcoming year.   After including graduates that plan to play for their college and university club teams, the figure swells beyond the century mark.

Historically, with just over 100 state graduates having found their way to NCAA rosters since 1979 – and most of them in the last decade, the increase signals a growing emphasis by college coaches on Washington and the lacrosse talent cultivated in the state.

Emphasis demonstrated earlier in October when Low tempted USC and Oregon to show off the Division I women’s game at the state’s annual NCAA Seatown Classic.  The fall-ball exhibition at Issaquah High School just east of Seattle attracted 1,196 spectators who paid between $13 and $15 per ticket to attend the showcase.   Not quite the 9,391 that attended this spring’s women’s NCAA Final at Villanova, but far beyond attendance, usually in the 100s, at many women’s collegiate games around the country.

Among the five Pac-12 schools that offer women’s lacrosse; USC, Oregon, California, Stanford and Colorado, which starts its program this spring, the Trojans’ roster includes junior Alex Foreman, an Eastside Catholic graduate and sophomore Jacky Hennegan, a Central Kitsap graduate, while the Golden Bears’ roster includes sophomore Helen Hansen, a Mercer Island native who prepped at Indiana’s Culver Academies.


Southern Cal’s Jacky Hennegan, a 2012 graduate of Central Kitsap High School, patrols the Trojan midfield during this fall’s NCAA Seatown Classic in Issaquah. Hennegan is one of three state players on the Pac-12’s five women’s lacrosse teams.  (Photo: Laurie Usher)

In the NAIA, the upstart men’s program at Montana’s University of Great Falls has three Washington state graduates on its 2013-14 roster; Nick Martin of Everett’s Archbishop Murphy High School, Marcus Fakkema of Lynden High School and Josh Smith of Stanwood High School.

For Low and other state leaders, lacrosse’s acceptance by prominent Pac-12 schools along with the growing number of prep players showing up on rosters in other conferences validates the choices student-athletes are making to choose top schools.

“Students need more today to get into top schools,” said John Baumann, boys lacrosse coach at defending state champion Bellevue High School.  “If, in addition to a good academic record, you play a sport at a high caliber, you have a better opportunity to be considered for admission by that school.”

And at the top are the Wolverines.

Baumann, who graduated 13 seniors from his 2013 Division I state championship team, will see eight go on to play at the next level including Cole Johnson and Dakota Jones who captured the attention of U.S. Military Academy coaches with their play last spring.  The two are among 10 from last year’s graduating class that will play for NCAA Division I schools.

An accomplishment that reflects the shift in the opportunity balance of the sport today, Baumann said.

“On Long Island where I grew up, lacrosse was the way to (find a college opportunity).  Lacrosse was my opportunity,” said Baumann who played for NCAA Div. I University at Albany in the 1990s.

“The supply and demand was very different,” he said.  Today, I see kids who have a chance to get to their reach schools – not just athletically but academically, because they play this game.  It definitely opens doors.”


University of Great Falls freshman midfielder Nick Martin is a graduate of Archbishop Murphy High School in Everett. (Photo: Univ. of Great Falls Athletics)

Other 2013 state graduates to earn berths on NCAA Division I lacrosse rosters are Mercer Island’s Grant Preisler (Marquette), Hayden Reisman (St. John’s) and Tyler Sherper (Colgate) along with Bainbridge’s, Jacob Knostman (Fairfield) and Madeline Stevenson (Denver). Lakeside’s Peter Scott and Natalie Fox will both play for Brown while Justin Riggins of Seattle Prep will play for Richmond.  Along with state seniors that have earned NCAA and NAIA rosters spots, another 79 are expecting to take the field for club teams at their colleges and universities this year bringing the total number of 2013 state seniors to play lacrosse at the next level to 132.

On the heals of a decade-long, double-digit annual growth trend in state participation, the success of the Washington lacrosse Class of 2013 has its roots among the interest of families and young people in the game, along with schools looking to keep current with the broadening interests of young athletes.

“Lacrosse combines a variety of skills from other sports like basketball and soccer.  That’s attractive to kids who want to get in the action,” said Low, who along with high school, has coached youth teams and has daughters of his own participating in sports. “Speed and quickness are important and there is constant action.  No player is off the field for long,” he said.  “It’s exciting for kids to join in the action and not sit on the bench.”

For Jamie Asaka, girl’s lacrosse coach at Seattle’s Lakeside School, participation opportunities in the sport have never been more plentiful, especially for girls.

“There’s a very real place for girls to be athletic today,” said the former Lions student-athlete who guided Lakeside to its ninth girl’s lacrosse state championship last spring and sixth in the past eight years.

“It’s very different than when I played,” Asaka said.  “Kids today grow up with an interest in lacrosse being the norm.  Not the exception.”


Lakeside’s Natalie Fox (left) drives against a Lake Sammamish player during this spring’s Washington Lacrosse Girls State Championship game. Fox, who is attending Brown University, is one of four Lakeside graduates to earn NCAA roster spots this year. (Photo: Michael Jardine)

Encouraging for Asaka, whose philosophy as and educator, mentor, and coach is to activate lacrosse and other activities to enrich lives and maximize the immense potential of the young minds that she touches.

Among Lakeside’s success stories are Fox and Scott, who are now studying and practicing at Brown along with Rebecca Long, who earned a Pomona-Pitzer roster spot and Connor Haney, who will play for Colorado College, both Division III schools.

“It’s never been about winning. It’s about building your team,” said Asaka, who cut her teeth as a teacher and coach in Chicago’s school system.  “Every role matters.  It makes (students) better as a team, as athletes and human beings.”

In Division I lacrosse, the women’s Graduation Success Rate, known as GSR, is 94 percent, one of the best among NCAA sports.  Topping the men’s GSR of 87 percent and overall rate for Division I sports of 82, the relationship with upper campus is as important as ever as the women’s game moves beyond its Title IX role.

“In this sport there’s a great connection between academics and athletics,” said UPS’s Halstead, who added 2013-14 recruiting class members Elena Becker of Kirkland’s International Community School and Sam Scott of Bainbridge High School to a roster than already includes sophomore Kerri Smith of Redmond’s Overlake School, junior Haley Jackson and sophomore Maddie Soukup both of Ballard High School in the Seattle School District.

“The biggest thing for UPS, or any school, is that once you’ve created a successful program, the sport is no longer seen as just another number to balance things out,” Halstead said.  “Yes it’s important to engage student-athletes in the academic community.  But it’s as important to involve the academic community in the student-athlete experience.”

At the University of Michigan, an academic and athletic powerhouse in the Big-10 Conference, which added men’s lacrosse as a varsity sport in 2012, those ideals have proved important.

“The more we dug into it, the more we believed that this is just a sport of the future,” said Michigan Athletic Director David Brandon in remarks published in the 2012 US Lacrosse Annual Participation Survey.

“Lacrosse’s trend lines in every way we could measure were impressive and made us believe that this is a place where we could grow and be a part of something that would over time be very big.”


Class of 2013:  Washington state high school seniors playing college lacrosse in 2013-14


MenHigh School (Program if Different from HS)University / College
Jacob KnostmanBainbridge HSFairfield Univ. (Conn.)
Cole JohnsonBellevue HSU.S. Military Academy at West Point (N.Y.)
Dakota JonesBellevue HSU.S. Military Academy at West Point (N.Y.)
Clayton FrankColumbia River HS (King’s Way)Marist College (N.Y.)
Peter ScottLakeside SchoolBrown Univ. (R.I.)
Grant PreislerMercer Island HSMarquette Univ. (Wis.)
Justin RigginsSeattle PrepUniv. of Richmond (Va.)
Madeline StevensonBainbridge HSUniv. of Denver (Colo.)
Natalie FoxLakeside SchoolBrown Univ. (R.I.)
Tyler SherperMercer Island HSColgate Univ. (N.Y.)



MenHigh School (Program if Different from HS)University / College
Andrew MatthewsBellevue HSRollins College (Fla.)
Mitchell UndiIssaquah HSWingate Univ. (N.C.)
Treven SalminenLynden HSLees-McRae College (N.C.)
Steen SwedstedtMercer Island HSWingate Univ. (N.C.)
Curtis YokoyamaThe Overlake SchoolNotre Dame de Namur (Calif.)
Liam WatkinsRedmond HSUniv. of Tampa (Fla.)
Michael O’ConnorWhite River HS (Auburn Riverside)Univ. of Tampa (Fla.)


Saffron SnethenMercer Island HSMt. Olive College (N.C.)



MenHigh School (Program if Different from HS)University / College
Frank MedlicottArchbishop Murphy HS (Stanwood)Western New England College (Mass.)
Joe FinnellBellevue HSWestern New England College (Mass.)
Elliott AllenChrysalis School (Garfield)Southwestern Univ. (Tex.)
Cole IvanoffEastside Catholic SchoolWhittier College (Calif.)
Trevor BumanEmerald Ridge HS (Emerald Ridge-Puyallup)Benedictine Univ. (Ill.)
David PughEnumclaw HS (Auburn Riverside)Ohio Wesleyan Univ. (Ohio)
Jared HawkinsEverett HSAugustana College (Ill.)
Micayel McKechnieGraham-Kapowsin HS (Auburn Riverside)Benedictine Univ. (Ill.)
Drew TosayaInglemoor HS (Bothell-Inglemoor)Rochester Institute of Technology (N.Y.)
Ian StrongJackson HS (Everett)Transylvania Univ. (Ky.)
Jordan GagnonKamiak HSIllinois Wesleyan Univ. (Ill.)
Nick GregoryKamiak HSWittenberg Univ. (Ohio)
Connor HaneyLakeside SchoolColorado College (Colo.)
Cameron WarrenLynnwood HS (Meadowdale)Carthage College (Wis.)
Lorenzo PowellMercer Island HSCentre College (Ky.)
Justin RoremMercer Island HSKenyon College (Ohio)
Jack MacIntireNathan Hale HSIthaca College (N.Y.)
Kalani FlowersRogers HS (Emerald Ridge-Puyallup)Elmhurst College (Ill.)
Barrett JennessThe Overlake SchoolWheaton College (Mass.)
Kinori RosnowThe Overlake SchoolOberlin College (Ohio)
Cedric RhodesSeattle Academy (Garfield)Middlebury College (Vt.)
Cooper WoolstonUniversity Prep (Nathan Hale)Swarthmore College (Pa.)
Samantha ScottBainbridge HSUniv. of Puget Sound (Wash.)
Regan WortleyBainbridge HSUniv. of Rochester (N.Y.)
Dayan Flynn-WalshBallard High SchoolPomona-Pitzer Colleges (Calif.)
Elena BeckerInternational School (Bellevue East)Univ. of Puget Sound (Wash.)
Jo HeywoodInternational School (Bellevue East)Claremont-McKenna College (Calif.)
Madilyn BechtelJuanita HS (Lake Sammamish)Linfield College (Ore.)
Rebecca LongLakeside SchoolPomona-Pitzer Colleges (Calif.)
Dulce MollMercer Island HSUniv. of Redlands (Calif.)
Kelsey D’EwartThe Overlake SchoolScripps College (Calif.)
Zoe PinczowerThe Overlake SchoolScripps College (Calif.)



MenHigh School (Program if Different from HS)University / College
Nick MartinArchbishop Murphy HS (Kamiak)Univ. of Great Falls (Mont.)
Marcus FakkemaLynden HSUniv. of Great Falls (Mont.)
Joshua SmithStanwood HSUniv. of Great Falls (Mont.)


Club Lacrosse

Men High School (Program if Different from HS)University / College
Joshua DavenportAuburn Riverside HSBoise State Univ. (Idaho)
Jacob MarksBallard HSUniv. of Colorado, Boulder (Colo.)
Taylor Andersen-ClarkBellarmine PrepUniv. of Idaho (Idaho)
Marco Martija-HarrisBellarmine PrepWashington State Univ. (Wash.)
Connor McLeodBellarmine PrepWashington State Univ. (Wash.)
Sean NoronhaBellarmine PrepWashington State Univ. (Wash.)
Jake O’LearyBellarmine PrepWestern Washington Univ. (Wash.)
John PavolkaBellarmine PrepWashington State Univ. (Wash.)
Donovan QuiochoBellarmine PrepGonzaga Univ. (Wash.)
Garrett StockdaleBellarmine PrepPepperdine Univ. (Calif.)
Simon JenkinsBellevue HSChapman Univ. (Calif.)
Hunter LienBellevue HSWashington State Univ. (Wash.)
Will PennerBellevue HSUniv. of Washington (Wash.)
Riley PrattBellevue HSUniv. of Washington. (Wash.)
Taylor BisettBishop Blanchet HSUniv. of Montana (Mont.)
James DonaldsonBishop Blanchet HSOregon State Univ. (Ore.)
Brad JoynerBothell HS (Bothell-Inglemoor)Chapman Univ. (Calif.)
Austin CaldwellEastlake HSUniversity of Oregon (Ore.)
Davis CaldwellEastlake HSUniversity of Oregon (Ore.)
Marcus CampidilliGig Harbor HS (Peninsula-Gig Harbor)Western Washington Univ. (Wash.)
Leif DrathmanGig Harbor HS (Peninsula-Gig Harbor)Gonzaga Univ. (Wash.)
Austin PetakGig Harbor HS (Peninsula-Gig Harbor)Western Washington Univ. (Wash.)
Luke BeanGonzaga PrepSeattle Univ. (Wash.)
Kyle GuthGonzaga PrepUniv. of Colorado, Colorado Springs (Colo.)
Jack SkierkaGonzaga PrepGonzaga Univ. (Wash.)
Luke JohnsonGonzaga PrepCalifornia Lutheran Univ. (Calif.)
James PelkieGonzaga PrepGrand Canyon Univ. (Ariz.)
Noah WellerGonzaga PrepSeattle Univ. (Wash.)
Drew WadeKennewick HS (Richland)Washington State Univ. (Wash.)
Chey Hards-LaneKlahowya Secondary SchoolCentral Washington Univ. (Wash.)
Cody RobertsKlahowya Secondary SchoolCentral Washington Univ. (Wash.)
Ben AndersonLake Washington HSGonzaga Univ. (Wash.)
Wyatt JansenLynden Christian HS (Lynden)Montana State Univ. (Mont.)
Zane BerholdMount Si HSBoise State Univ.
Nick RothNooksack Valley HS (Lynden)Grand Canyon Univ. (Ariz.)
Cody OlsonPeninsula HS (Peninsula-Gig Harbor)Grand Canyon Univ. (Ariz.)
Jackson LanningSeattle Academy (Garfield)Deerfield Academy (Mass.) (Post Grad)
Cooper HayesStadium HSCentral Washington Univ. (Wash.)
Evan LineweaverStadium HSUniv. of Portland (Ore.)
Zack MabrySouthridge HS (Richland)Washington State Univ. (Wash.)
Vaughn OstlerSouthridge HS (Richland)Washington State Univ. (Wash.)
Damon TaylorSouthridge HS (Richland)Washington State Univ. (Wash.)
Zachary WoodingSumner HS (Auburn Riverside)Boise State Univ. (Idaho)
Joe PedroTahoma HSCentral Washington Univ. (Wash.)
Riley HurtWenatchee HSCentral Washington Univ. (Wash.)
Trevor BrownWoodinville HSGrand Canyon Univ. (Ariz.)
Colter ClinchWoodinville HSCentral Washington Univ. (Wash.)
Emily MadsenBainbridge HSUniv. of Vermont (Vt.)
Courtney ParkerBainbridge HSWashington State Univ. (Wash.)
Margaret GoseBellevue HSWhitman College (Wash.)
Kate LanzingerBellevue HSWestern Washington Univ. (Wash.)
Kendra SaathoffBellevue HSPacific Lutheran Univ. (Wash.)
Hannah EricksonCentral Kitsap HS (Klahowya)Washington State Univ. (Wash.)
Carina RiordanBishop Blanchet HS (Roosevelt)Univ. of Portland (Ore.)
Miranda TaylorEastlake HS (Lake Sammamish)Western Washington Univ. (Wash.)
Annie ZwaschkaGarfield HSUniv. of California Los Angeles (Calif.)
Uriah PowellGarfield HSUniv. of Washington (Wash.)
Eloise EvansGarfield HSUniv. of Washington (Wash.)
Amanda HultzGlacier Peak HS (Snohomish)Western Washington Univ. (Wash.)
Miranda HansenIssaquah HSWashington State Univ. (Wash.)
Kim MeachamIssaquah HSUtah State Univ. (Utah)
Claire HiskenKennedy Catholic HSWashington State Univ. (Wash.)
Monica MoffatKennedy Catholic HSGonzaga Univ. (Wash.)
Juliet JacobsKing’s HS (Roosevelt)Furman Univ. (S.C.)
Sheri McCartyKlahowya Secondary SchoolWestern Washington Univ. (Wash.)
Jo CaninoLakeside SchoolWhitman College (Wash.)
Madison BlackburnMercer Island HSUniv. of California Los Angeles (Calif.)
Kara DahlgrenMercer Island HSUniv. of Washington (Wash.)
Taylor DahlgrenMercer Island HSUniv. of Washington (Wash.)
Anna BernardRedmond HS (Lake Sammamish)Univ. of Denver (Colo.)
Claire MonsaasRedmond HS (Lake Sammamish)Gonzaga Univ. (Wash.)
Christina CalderonRoosevelt HSCentral Washington Univ. (Wash.)
Adrienne LeonardRoosevelt HSWashington State Univ. (Wash.)
Jaqueline MarberSkyline HS (Issaquah)Western Washington Univ. (Wash.)
Shelby MarberSkyline HS (Issaquah)Western Washington Univ. (Wash.)
Emily MincinSkyline HS (Issaquah)Gonzaga Univ. (Wash.)
Haley MincinSkyline HS (Issaquah)Gonzaga Univ. (Wash.)
Maddie WileySkyline HS (Issaquah)Brigham Young Univ. (Utah)
Meg ChapmanWoodinville HS (Lake Sammamish)Pacific Univ. (Ore.)

About Lacrosse in Washington State
Lacrosse has over 100 years of history in Washington state with clubs playing in the early 1900s and high schools now in their fourth decade of state competition.  With Native American origins, lacrosse is one of the oldest organized sports on the continent and today is considered the fastest growing sport in America.  In Washington state, some 4,000 student-athletes attending over 200 high schools play prep lacrosse, while another 6,000 play lacrosse at the youth, adult and collegiate club levels throughout the state.  For more information on high school lacrosse in Washington state visit

By Mike McQuaid, Sports Information Director, US Lacrosse — Washington State Chapter

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