Skyline sponsoring lacrosse club team

Wyatt Pearson, coach of Shenandoah Valley Youth Lacrosse, stands among a group of lacrosse players at a recent practice at Strasburg Town Park. The team, which is composed of Shenandoah and Warren county players, will compete as the Skyline High School Hawks this spring. Rich Cooley/Daily

STRASBURG – Parker Stover has been dreaming about playing lacrosse at the high school level for years.

The Skyline junior is getting his wish. Shenandoah Valley Youth Lacrosse now has a team affiliated with Skyline High School as a club team. Stover is one of 22 players on this year’s club team, which is for high schoolers.

“It means a lot that I’m actually able to play on a club team under my school colors,” Stover said. “I played football and I’m ready to show the school that (lacrosse is) a good sport to have.”

Although Skyline High School is a sponsor, the team is open to and composed of players from Warren and Shenandoah counties. All players will have to abide by Skyline High School academic and athletic rules and Skyline will be in contact with the other schools to check on grades of the players.

The jerseys will be Skyline colors, and the Skyline logo will be on their helmets, but the school is not paying for their jerseys or gear.

Central High School student Jacob France, 14, a member of the Shenandaoh Valley Youth Lacrosse team, warms up for practice at Strasburg Town Park on Wednesday. The team, which is composed of Shenandoah and Warren county players, will compete as the Skyline High School Hawks this spring. Rich Cooley/Daily

Stover said he has been a part of the lacrosse program for the last six years, and said most of the players on this year’s team have played together for a while.

Sean Bordner, who is on the lacrosse board, said they realized last year that they needed to have a high school level team. Before this year the leagues only went up to age 15, so they wanted to have a team for high-school-aged kids.

“We’ve known for years as Shenandoah Valley Youth Lacrosse that we needed to get it into the high schools,” Bordner said. “It’s always been our objective. So we started knocking on doors and we met with two fine gentlemen over at Skyline – (Principal) Mr. (Mike) Smith and Mr. (Bill) Cupp, the (athletic director). They welcomed us with open arms. We worked through them and the superintendent (L. Gregory Drescher), who I can’t say good enough things about.”

The team is coached by Wyatt Pearson with Devon Harper as his assistant coach. They practice at the Strasburg Park three times a week, and their first game is March 21 against Handley’s club team.

“It’s a pretty big deal,” Bordner said. “It’s the first year that any Warren County High School has officially sponsored even a club team, but it’s a stepping stone to get into the school system.”

Bordner said they had around 600 kids total in the program last year, but that included kids from Frederick, Clarke, Shenandoah and Warren counties in the younger leagues.

He said they hope to eventually start branching out and having teams at all the different schools in the area, which would consist of only kids from those schools.

Harper said that they will play against high school teams such as Wakefield Country Day, Wakefield School and Middleburg Academy. They will also play Handley’s club team and the Massanutten District Lacrosse Club, a club team in the Harrisonburg area. He said they are also trying to schedule a game against Courtland High School’s club level team.

They are scheduled to play 12 games this season. Harper said they are trying to grow the girls’ programs so that they can eventually have high school club teams for girls as well. Once they do that they can then try to have actual Virginia High School League teams in the area.

Harper said that lacrosse is big in the Martinsburg area, and around Harrisonburg, and also from Fauquier County eastward toward Washington, D.C.

“We’re kind of that gap where there’s nothing in the middle and we’re looking to fill that in,” Harper said. “And build a program and use the youth league to build those kids up, so as they age out they still have another program to go to.”

Practice for this season just started this week and Pearson said that he liked what he saw from the first day of practice.

“I’m seeing a lot of great effort from everybody,” Pearson said. “Surprising amount of skill for an area that hasn’t had lacrosse in it historically. I think their youth league really helped out with that, that Paul’s (Kosubinsky) been running – developing that skill early on.”

Central freshman Nick Houghton said this will be his second season in the league. He said he played a couple years ago, when a friend convinced him to give it a try.

He said he loves the sport, and also plays football and basketball at Central. Houghton said lacrosse is a tough sport.

“You got to be mentally strong and physically strong,” Houghton said. “You can’t just come here and cry every time you get hit. You got to be stronger.”

Stover said that the sport is a lot like other popular sports.

“The fundamentals are the same as a lot of sports,” Stover said. “The hitting is kind of like for football. Offense, defense movement is kind of like basketball, and there’s a little bit of hockey thrown in there with the goals and everything. It’s on a football field – 105 yards. It gets you in great shape. It’s really tough mentally and physically. It’s not for the weak. We weed them out pretty quick, within the first week or two.”

Stover said he’s excited for the season and thinks this year’s team will do well.

“I love this team. So far it’s looking good,” Stover said. “I think we’re going to have a pretty good season since we’re a first-year team, and we’re going to have a really good team next year probably.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com