Above, goalie Christian Middlestead shares his “Honor the Game” stickers he received from opponents for his sportsmanship in games this season, most of his teammates. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash
No wins, no problem.
Another season down and Sequim and Port Angeles players with the North Olympic Peninsula Mountaineers want to keep the momentum going.
Although winless in their second and third seasons, the middle school boys and girls lacrosse teams keep generating interest in the sport peninsula-wide.
Boys head coach Lee Biladeau said it’s grown from 10 players to 21 with no attrition and some players even balance it with the baseball season.
“I see it skyrocketing,” he said. “You look at the numbers and it’s grown over 100 percent.”
Victoria Jones, girls’ head coach, said 16 girls signed on this year including a few who joined toward the end of the season. Although they didn’t win any games, they played hard against Forest Ridge (Bellevue) in a 16-13 loss and tied University Place 7-7 on May 19.
“We have some people with some experience and some so new not knowing what a lacrosse stick is,” Jones said.
The Mountaineers remains the only lacrosse offering on the North Olympic Peninsula for students grades 5-12, Jones said, and word has spread.
“You have to see and watch the game and be as addicted as they are,” Biladeau said.
“It’s very confusing at first but they are extremely coachable. Even if they don’t grasp the game fully, it’s more about the basics and learning sportsmanship.”
For younger players, Jones said they start with the fundamentals — how to hold a stick, how to cradle (girls don’t have a pocket on their stick), and how to pass and catch.
Andrew Borde, a Port Angeles seventh-grader, earned the team’s Most Valuable Player award in his first year. He said joining the team, he knew the basics of lacrosse but everything was new.
“The hardest part was cradling,” he said. “It took me a few weeks to figure it out.”
Sequim’s Hannah Patterson, a defender, said she first learned of the sport when the boys’ team was promoting it at Sequim Middle School.
She’s become dedicated to the sport and loves the teamwork aspect most.
“I know that I contributed in some way at the end of each game,” she said.
“You also talk to each other more than in any other sport. We don’t have pockets so there’s a lot of movement.”
While games can become physical, particularly in boys’ matches due to certain rules in place, sportsmanship remains key. At the end of each game, teams host “Honor the Game” where each team honors two members on the opposing team for sportsmanship, ability and/or effort to receive a sticker for their helmets.
Christian Middlestead, the boys’ goalie, received the most stickers this season.
He had 40 saves, which he said is OK, but “hopes to get better next year.”
One thing that constantly impresses Jim Deckman, the boys’ assistant coach, is their continued ability to distill a positive experience from every game regardless of the score.
More options are becoming available in lacrosse for local players. The boys’ team is opening a team again to fifth- and sixth-graders while continuing the seventh/eighth-grade and high school teams. Jones said they plan to form a girls’ high school team, with some of this year’s players already committed to play next spring.
“The hope is to build that experience from when they are young and up,” she said.
For more information on the girls’ teams, contact Jones at email@example.com; for the middle school boys’ team, contact Deckman at 360-670-3798; and for the high school and general information, refer to the website http://mountaineerslax.org.