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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.”

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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

NCAA Div. I

Men High School (Program if Different from HS) University / College
Jacob Knostman Bainbridge HS Fairfield Univ. (Conn.)
Cole Johnson Bellevue HS U.S. Military Academy at West Point (N.Y.)
Dakota Jones Bellevue HS U.S. Military Academy at West Point (N.Y.)
Clayton Frank Columbia River HS (King’s Way) Marist College (N.Y.)
Peter Scott Lakeside School Brown Univ. (R.I.)
Grant Preisler Mercer Island HS Marquette Univ. (Wis.)
Justin Riggins Seattle Prep Univ. of Richmond (Va.)
 
Women
Madeline Stevenson Bainbridge HS Univ. of Denver (Colo.)
Natalie Fox Lakeside School Brown Univ. (R.I.)
Tyler Sherper Mercer Island HS Colgate Univ. (N.Y.)

 

NCAA Div. II

Men High School (Program if Different from HS) University / College
Andrew Matthews Bellevue HS Rollins College (Fla.)
Mitchell Undi Issaquah HS Wingate Univ. (N.C.)
Treven Salminen Lynden HS Lees-McRae College (N.C.)
Steen Swedstedt Mercer Island HS Wingate Univ. (N.C.)
Curtis Yokoyama The Overlake School Notre Dame de Namur (Calif.)
Liam Watkins Redmond HS Univ. of Tampa (Fla.)
Michael O’Connor White River HS (Auburn Riverside) Univ. of Tampa (Fla.)

Women

Saffron Snethen Mercer Island HS Mt. Olive College (N.C.)

 

NCAA Div. III

Men High School (Program if Different from HS) University / College
Frank Medlicott Archbishop Murphy HS (Stanwood) Western New England College (Mass.)
Joe Finnell Bellevue HS Western New England College (Mass.)
Elliott Allen Chrysalis School (Garfield) Southwestern Univ. (Tex.)
Cole Ivanoff Eastside Catholic School Whittier College (Calif.)
Trevor Buman Emerald Ridge HS (Emerald Ridge-Puyallup) Benedictine Univ. (Ill.)
David Pugh Enumclaw HS (Auburn Riverside) Ohio Wesleyan Univ. (Ohio)
Jared Hawkins Everett HS Augustana College (Ill.)
Micayel McKechnie Graham-Kapowsin HS (Auburn Riverside) Benedictine Univ. (Ill.)
Drew Tosaya Inglemoor HS (Bothell-Inglemoor) Rochester Institute of Technology (N.Y.)
Ian Strong Jackson HS (Everett) Transylvania Univ. (Ky.)
Jordan Gagnon Kamiak HS Illinois Wesleyan Univ. (Ill.)
Nick Gregory Kamiak HS Wittenberg Univ. (Ohio)
Connor Haney Lakeside School Colorado College (Colo.)
Cameron Warren Lynnwood HS (Meadowdale) Carthage College (Wis.)
Lorenzo Powell Mercer Island HS Centre College (Ky.)
Justin Rorem Mercer Island HS Kenyon College (Ohio)
Jack MacIntire Nathan Hale HS Ithaca College (N.Y.)
Kalani Flowers Rogers HS (Emerald Ridge-Puyallup) Elmhurst College (Ill.)
Barrett Jenness The Overlake School Wheaton College (Mass.)
Kinori Rosnow The Overlake School Oberlin College (Ohio)
Cedric Rhodes Seattle Academy (Garfield) Middlebury College (Vt.)
Cooper Woolston University Prep (Nathan Hale) Swarthmore College (Pa.)
 
Women
Samantha Scott Bainbridge HS Univ. of Puget Sound (Wash.)
Regan Wortley Bainbridge HS Univ. of Rochester (N.Y.)
Dayan Flynn-Walsh Ballard High School Pomona-Pitzer Colleges (Calif.)
Elena Becker International School (Bellevue East) Univ. of Puget Sound (Wash.)
Jo Heywood International School (Bellevue East) Claremont-McKenna College (Calif.)
Madilyn Bechtel Juanita HS (Lake Sammamish) Linfield College (Ore.)
Rebecca Long Lakeside School Pomona-Pitzer Colleges (Calif.)
Dulce Moll Mercer Island HS Univ. of Redlands (Calif.)
Kelsey D’Ewart The Overlake School Scripps College (Calif.)
Zoe Pinczower The Overlake School Scripps College (Calif.)

 

NAIA

Men High School (Program if Different from HS) University / College
Nick Martin Archbishop Murphy HS (Kamiak) Univ. of Great Falls (Mont.)
Marcus Fakkema Lynden HS Univ. of Great Falls (Mont.)
Joshua Smith Stanwood HS Univ. of Great Falls (Mont.)

 

Club Lacrosse

Men  High School (Program if Different from HS) University / College
Joshua Davenport Auburn Riverside HS Boise State Univ. (Idaho)
Jacob Marks Ballard HS Univ. of Colorado, Boulder (Colo.)
Taylor Andersen-Clark Bellarmine Prep Univ. of Idaho (Idaho)
Marco Martija-Harris Bellarmine Prep Washington State Univ. (Wash.)
Connor McLeod Bellarmine Prep Washington State Univ. (Wash.)
Sean Noronha Bellarmine Prep Washington State Univ. (Wash.)
Jake O’Leary Bellarmine Prep Western Washington Univ. (Wash.)
John Pavolka Bellarmine Prep Washington State Univ. (Wash.)
Donovan Quiocho Bellarmine Prep Gonzaga Univ. (Wash.)
Garrett Stockdale Bellarmine Prep Pepperdine Univ. (Calif.)
Simon Jenkins Bellevue HS Chapman Univ. (Calif.)
Hunter Lien Bellevue HS Washington State Univ. (Wash.)
Will Penner Bellevue HS Univ. of Washington (Wash.)
Riley Pratt Bellevue HS Univ. of Washington. (Wash.)
Taylor Bisett Bishop Blanchet HS Univ. of Montana (Mont.)
James Donaldson Bishop Blanchet HS Oregon State Univ. (Ore.)
Brad Joyner Bothell HS (Bothell-Inglemoor) Chapman Univ. (Calif.)
Austin Caldwell Eastlake HS University of Oregon (Ore.)
Davis Caldwell Eastlake HS University of Oregon (Ore.)
Marcus Campidilli Gig Harbor HS (Peninsula-Gig Harbor) Western Washington Univ. (Wash.)
Leif Drathman Gig Harbor HS (Peninsula-Gig Harbor) Gonzaga Univ. (Wash.)
Austin Petak Gig Harbor HS (Peninsula-Gig Harbor) Western Washington Univ. (Wash.)
Luke Bean Gonzaga Prep Seattle Univ. (Wash.)
Kyle Guth Gonzaga Prep Univ. of Colorado, Colorado Springs (Colo.)
Jack Skierka Gonzaga Prep Gonzaga Univ. (Wash.)
Luke Johnson Gonzaga Prep California Lutheran Univ. (Calif.)
James Pelkie Gonzaga Prep Grand Canyon Univ. (Ariz.)
Noah Weller Gonzaga Prep Seattle Univ. (Wash.)
Drew Wade Kennewick HS (Richland) Washington State Univ. (Wash.)
Chey Hards-Lane Klahowya Secondary School Central Washington Univ. (Wash.)
Cody Roberts Klahowya Secondary School Central Washington Univ. (Wash.)
Ben Anderson Lake Washington HS Gonzaga Univ. (Wash.)
Wyatt Jansen Lynden Christian HS (Lynden) Montana State Univ. (Mont.)
Zane Berhold Mount Si HS Boise State Univ.
Nick Roth Nooksack Valley HS (Lynden) Grand Canyon Univ. (Ariz.)
Cody Olson Peninsula HS (Peninsula-Gig Harbor) Grand Canyon Univ. (Ariz.)
Jackson Lanning Seattle Academy (Garfield) Deerfield Academy (Mass.) (Post Grad)
Cooper Hayes Stadium HS Central Washington Univ. (Wash.)
Evan Lineweaver Stadium HS Univ. of Portland (Ore.)
Zack Mabry Southridge HS (Richland) Washington State Univ. (Wash.)
Vaughn Ostler Southridge HS (Richland) Washington State Univ. (Wash.)
Damon Taylor Southridge HS (Richland) Washington State Univ. (Wash.)
Zachary Wooding Sumner HS (Auburn Riverside) Boise State Univ. (Idaho)
Joe Pedro Tahoma HS Central Washington Univ. (Wash.)
Riley Hurt Wenatchee HS Central Washington Univ. (Wash.)
Trevor Brown Woodinville HS Grand Canyon Univ. (Ariz.)
Colter Clinch Woodinville HS Central Washington Univ. (Wash.)
Women
Emily Madsen Bainbridge HS Univ. of Vermont (Vt.)
Courtney Parker Bainbridge HS Washington State Univ. (Wash.)
Margaret Gose Bellevue HS Whitman College (Wash.)
Kate Lanzinger Bellevue HS Western Washington Univ. (Wash.)
Kendra Saathoff Bellevue HS Pacific Lutheran Univ. (Wash.)
Hannah Erickson Central Kitsap HS (Klahowya) Washington State Univ. (Wash.)
Carina Riordan Bishop Blanchet HS (Roosevelt) Univ. of Portland (Ore.)
Miranda Taylor Eastlake HS (Lake Sammamish) Western Washington Univ. (Wash.)
Annie Zwaschka Garfield HS Univ. of California Los Angeles (Calif.)
Uriah Powell Garfield HS Univ. of Washington (Wash.)
Eloise Evans Garfield HS Univ. of Washington (Wash.)
Amanda Hultz Glacier Peak HS (Snohomish) Western Washington Univ. (Wash.)
Miranda Hansen Issaquah HS Washington State Univ. (Wash.)
Kim Meacham Issaquah HS Utah State Univ. (Utah)
Claire Hisken Kennedy Catholic HS Washington State Univ. (Wash.)
Monica Moffat Kennedy Catholic HS Gonzaga Univ. (Wash.)
Juliet Jacobs King’s HS (Roosevelt) Furman Univ. (S.C.)
Sheri McCarty Klahowya Secondary School Western Washington Univ. (Wash.)
Jo Canino Lakeside School Whitman College (Wash.)
Madison Blackburn Mercer Island HS Univ. of California Los Angeles (Calif.)
Kara Dahlgren Mercer Island HS Univ. of Washington (Wash.)
Taylor Dahlgren Mercer Island HS Univ. of Washington (Wash.)
Anna Bernard Redmond HS (Lake Sammamish) Univ. of Denver (Colo.)
Claire Monsaas Redmond HS (Lake Sammamish) Gonzaga Univ. (Wash.)
Christina Calderon Roosevelt HS Central Washington Univ. (Wash.)
Adrienne Leonard Roosevelt HS Washington State Univ. (Wash.)
Jaqueline Marber Skyline HS (Issaquah) Western Washington Univ. (Wash.)
Shelby Marber Skyline HS (Issaquah) Western Washington Univ. (Wash.)
Emily Mincin Skyline HS (Issaquah) Gonzaga Univ. (Wash.)
Haley Mincin Skyline HS (Issaquah) Gonzaga Univ. (Wash.)
Maddie Wiley Skyline HS (Issaquah) Brigham Young Univ. (Utah)
Meg Chapman Woodinville 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 http://www.WashingtonHSLAX.com.

www.WashingtonHSLAX.com

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

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