A quick success Stampede off to fast, first-place start
“Lacrosse is a developer of health and strength. It is a game that spectators rave over once (they) understand it” – Glenn “Pop” Warner when he substituted lacrosse for baseball at Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania.
By Dave Price
When Andrew Shoop set out to organize the Gold Country Stampede lacrosse team in December, he wanted to provide an opportunity for his sons and other youth around the area to enjoy a sport he had played while growing up in Southern California.
The result has been a successful debut for this squad of middle school boys from the Grass Valley and Lake of the Pines area during their inaugural Northern California Junior Lacrosse Association season.
They are 8-1 so far, good for first place in their division and an apparent berth in the playoffs. The Stampede travel to the Sacramento area this weekend to play in a jamboree, and then go to the playoffs.
“It’s been amazing how well we’ve done,” Shoop said. “At the junior high level in the Bay Area, a lot of the programs have three or four teams. Being a first-year team, we’re playing at the lowest level, but it’s still been amazing how well we’ve done.”
The Stampede received a measure of respect when their schedule was drawn up for the 65-team NCJLA Jamboree on Saturday and Sunday at the Cherry Island Lacrosse Complex in Elverta.
“We’ve been playing C division teams, but they looked at how well we’ve been doing and at the jamboree we’ll be playing two B division teams.”
That’s pretty good considering the Stampede only have three players on their roster who actually played lacrosse before this season. And pretty good considering how the idea to start this club developed after Patrick Konttinen’s family moved from the Bay Area last year.
“Patrick said one of the things he really missed up here was not being able to play lacrosse,” Shoop said. “He and my son (Alec) happen to be buddies, and that’s how it got started.”
Konttinen, a Magnolia Middle School sixth grader, is happy to be on the field again. He has also played soccer, basketball and tennis – sports not all that much different than lacrosse.
“It’s the best sport ever,” the 5-foot-2, 105-pound attacker said. “I like the contact and speed.”
Size isn’t a vital ingredient when playing this sport, according to Shoop.
“You really don’t need to be big,” the coach said. “It helps, but there’s a great deal of agility involved. You can be a bitty guy who is very quick and you will do very well in this game.”
On the other hand, Colby Angus is a 6-1, 170-pound defender who doubles as a middle linebacker and running back in football.
“This is fun. It’s my second favorite sport now,” Angus said. “Playing defender here is like playing linebacker in football. You have to be able to anticipate where the ball is going.”
Angus scored a goal last Sunday in the Stampede’s 9-3 nonleague win against El Dorado Hills at Bear River High School. Sky King scored three goals and Ryan Shoop, who normally plays goalie, scored twice to lead the attack. Justin Lawton, Chris Carcido and Alec Shoop each contributed one goal.
Shoop, a U.S. Air Force major who has served for 24 years, played high school lacrosse at The Thacher School in Ojai and later played for Division III Denison University in Ohio. Assistant coach Greg Porter played Division I at Adelphi University on Long Island for a team that was ranked No. 7 in the nation his senior year in 1986.
“It’s a great sport,” Porter said. “It’s a combination between soccer and hockey – you have hockey components because the game is physical – and I’d compare it to basketball because you have picks and rolls and patterned offenses.”
Porter, who works as an anesthesiologist at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, was excited when he read in the newspaper that a local lacrosse team was being organized.
“It’s nice to be back part of the game,” he said. “It’s been a blast. I was extremely excited when I saw the article in the paper that Andrew was putting a team together. I jumped all over that. I love to coach. I did some assistant coaching after college, and after I moved out here, I didn’t expect to see it again.”
“We have a fantastic group of players and parents who are all committed to getting to the practices and games,” Shoop said. “When we played in San Jose last week, the entire team was there.”
Interest in the program only seems to be growing, according to Shoop, pointing out that the Stampede is looking to put high school and middle school club teams together in 2007 – possibly a girls team as well.
“It’s the fastest-growing high school sport in the country currently,” Porter said. “The roots are back East. It’s been very big back there for a long time, but it’s expanding. I think it’s great that we have club teams in the foothills now.
“It’s amazing how fast the kids learn. The key to building a lacrosse program is to get a stick in their hands as soon as possible so they can learn stick skills.”
“It also teaches them a sense of teamwork and discipline,” he added.
“It’s an infectious game when you see it.”
Then again, that’s just what Pop Warner said nearly a century ago.
To contact sports editor Dave Price, e-mail email@example.com or call 477-4240.
Lineup: There are 10 positions (one goalie, three attackmen, three midfielders, and three defensemen).
Objective: To put a five-ounce hard-rubber ball into the opponent’s net, using a long-handled stick with a triangular pocket at the end, while at the same time, keeping your opponent from doing the same.
Field: Lacrosse is played on an open field with goals at both end. Like hockey, the player carry sticks and can roam behind the net. Like basketball, the offensive players set picks and run patterned offenses and fast breaks, while the defenses are man-to-man or zone. Basketball inventor James Naismith was a lacrosse player in the late 1800’s.
Noteworthy: In 1956, the game got a boost when a superior athlete from Syracuse University, Jim Brown, scored six goals for the North in the North-South Lacrosse game. Brown, one of the greatest running backs in the history of the National Football League, admitted he would rather play lacrosse than the grid sport.
Positions: Goalie – Uses a wider stick and wears a chest protector, as his job is to stop the opponents’ shots, which may come flying at him at more than 100 mph. The best goalies are said to be either brave or crazy … or a little of both. After making a save and gaining possession of the ball, the goalie is allowed to stay in the crease for only four seconds. During that time, no one is allowed to touch him. Defensemen – Use a longer stick (72 inches) and generally stay on the defensive half of the field. Their job is to guard the opponent’s attackmen and take the ball away from them. Defensemen need to be quick, aggressive and tough. Midfielders – or Middies, as they are also called, play both offense and defense, thus, they must run the length of the field. They are usually substituted frequently in units so as to keep them fresh. Speed and endurance are essential for middies. Attackmen – Use the shortest stick so as to limit the chance of losing the ball. They generally stay on the offensive half of the field and coordinate the offense. They are usually the best stick handlers and must be quick and agile.
History: The game, like the stick itself, was developed by Native North Americans as early as the 15th century.
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The Little League District 11 postseason is off to a hot start.