Lacrosse club seeks support

Published 6:05 pm Monday, September 7, 2009

When Seth Fisher finished his lacrosse season this summer, it was his final year with the U15 Hampton Roads Lacrosse club and he was thinking it could be his final season playing lacrosse.

Fisher, a rising sophomore at Lakeland, didn’t have a varsity team to go to, since neither Lakeland nor any other Suffolk Public School has lacrosse. Many local private schools have lacrosse programs, but for most public high schools, the next-best option is a high-school age club team in Hampton Roads Lacrosse. A good number of Chesapeake, Peninsula and Virginia Beach schools have such clubs, but not Suffolk.

Gary and Anita Fisher, Seth’s parents, are doing everything they can to change that by the upcoming spring. It’s not an easy process though.

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Hampton Roads Lacrosse is a chapter within the U.S. Lacrosse Association. More commonly known as “HRLax”, Hampton Roads Lacrosse is a non-profit association with teams from Williamsburg to the Outer Banks.

HRLax started only as youth teams about 15 years ago and added the high school league in 2004. Last spring, HRLax had 16 girls teams and 12 boys teams totaling nearly 700 players. Grassfield and Hickory, both in Chesapeake, are among the youngest members of the league.

For starters, the idea is to combine interested players, boys and girls, from Lakeland, Nansemond River and King’s Fork. One of the most basic hurdles, said Gary Fisher, is finding enough players.

“We’ll need at least 30 on each team. To do it with any less than that, it’s not really fair to the kids,” said Fisher.

Seth is main leader here, as he’s recruiting anyone who might be interested.

“I’ve started talking to some of the football players, and I’m going to start putting flyers out to see if we can get the interest we need,” said Seth.

Seth’s introduction to lacrosse was riding by and getting a glimpse of an HRLax practice at King’s Fork Middle School.

“I saw the guys throwing the ball, and hitting, and it looked kind of cool. I liked baseball, but I started lacrosse and now I like lacrosse more.”

A few new recruits, brand new to lacrosse, were outside Lakeland last week tossing a ball around.

“I saw Seth bouncing a ball against a wall,” said Lakeland senior Martin Gardner, “so he said, ‘you should play too, we need some bigger guys to play defense,’.”

Gardner has tried football and baseball, and certainly could be mistaken for a lineman on the gridiron, and he’s on the Cavalier wrestling team along with Seth.

“(Lacrosse) will give me the right to destroy people and I won’t really get in trouble for it,” said Gardner.

“Seth told Martin (Gardner) and Martin told me, so I’m out here,” said Colin Rice, a freshman at Lakeland, who already plays or has played football, baseball and wrestling.

“I want to have it eventually be more than a club,” said Brandon Gonzalez, a rising senior.

“If more and more people show interest in it, then they should put it in the schools,” said Gonzalez.

Another challenge is equipment and the expenses needed for all the gear. Some of the first people Gary talked with were Ken Hill, who heads up HRLax teams in North Suffolk and Fred DiVito, commissioner of Hampton Roads Lacrosse’s high school leagues.

HRLax will supply a good deal of what the club needs. The main things the new team would have to come up with are uniforms and, perhaps the biggest hurdle, each player’s individual equipment.

“Other teams, the other HRLax teams, have been awesome,” said Fisher.

“As well as at Nansemond-Suffolk Academy, mainly Rob Ruland and (Trent) Blythe. A lot of people are bending over backwards to help us set up, and it’s good because they’re the experts around here. It’s an awesome thing there are people in the community willing to help when it really doesn’t benefit them,” said Fisher.

Another high hurdle to date, said Fisher, is finding a field for the Suffolk Lacrosse Club to call home for practices and matches.

“Getting the word out and getting a field, those are the two main things. Other stuff should fall in place once we have that,” said Fisher.

“Hopefully, we can create something for Suffolk kids who want to play, because there’s nothing except for the private schools,” said Neil Phelps, a Lakeland senior. Phelps, Rice, Gonzalez and Gardner are all practically brand new to lacrosse.

“That would be a cool reward, if lacrosse was big at Lakeland and in 10 or 20 years Lakeland was winning the district or the state, and we were there to help start that,” said Rice.