Wolfpack helps young players ease into lacrosse

Competing in high school sports as a middle-schooler is a challenge with which West Shore lacrosse players are especially familiar.

Many younger players turn to the Wolfpack team, which is part of a developmental, recreational lacrosse league. These kids usually participate in Wolfpack during both the fall and spring to gain experience.

“It’s kind of like a feeder program,” said junior Chris Johnson, one of the Wolfpack assistant coaches. “We’re trying to prepare them for varsity-level lacrosse.”

Because lacrosse isn’t as popular here as it is in the Northeast, there aren’t enough players to create both varsity and junior varsity boys’ teams. New players are often placed directly on varsity.

“I feel like it gets scary for the kids,” Johnson said. “It’s like ‘Go play with some seniors; have fun.’”

Eighth-grader Zach J. agrees.

“Well, I’m short,” Zach said. “I’m really small, and if I play attack, then I have to go up against a defender with a longer stick, which is pretty tough.”

Even within the developmental league, young Wolfpack players compete against much bigger players.

“The rules say seventh- and eighth-graders and developmental ninth-graders, but there’s teams that have experienced ninth-graders that are bigger, faster and stronger than us,” Zach said. “It’s much harder for a beginner to play against them.”

The program still benefits West Shore’s team, though, Zach said. Players get opportunities to compete against their peers, preparing them for the upcoming season.

“I think, definitely, the experience factor is a big one, because most of the underclassmen have only been playing since seventh grade, so really only two years,” Zach said.

Despite the challenges the team has faced, Johnson said he is happy with the Wolfpack’s progress.

“I really enjoy it, being able to pass on some knowledge to [the players],” Johnson said. “They’ve definitely improved, which is promising, and it makes me feel good that I’m doing my part to better lacrosse at the school and in the area.”

By Abi Johnson