Already known near and far for its Carroll Dragons football team, award-winning athletic programs and amazing student athletes, Southlake is also quickly becoming known as a lacrosse town. This is evidenced by the recent opening of two lacrosse retail stores in the city, as well as the opening of North Park in September 2012 which offers three fields dedicated to lacrosse and flag football. More significantly, it is the players themselves who are raising awareness of the sport: The 7/8 Lady Dragons Lacrosse Team defeated Highland Park and Keller to win the 2013 North Texas Youth Lacrosse League state championship.
Although lacrosse is not new to Southlake, its popularity has increased significantly in the past few years. According to Eric Stein, manager of Lacrosse Unlimited in The Shops of Southlake, Texas is one of the fastest-growing states for the game.
“Lacrosse is rapidly expanding in Texas, California and Florida. Select and travel teams from Southlake are competing in tournaments in the northeast [where the sport is prominent],” says Stein, noting the Southlake location is one of only two in the state. “Since opening in March, we have been drawing customers from Keller, Flower Mound, Coppell and Fort Worth.”
Leading the local charge for youth players is the Southlake Carroll Lacrosse Association (SCLA), which was established in 2000. Although not a UIL sanctioned sport, SCLA works with the city and school athletic departments for programs and player recruitment. According to its website, SCLA sponsors 20 teams (15 youth and 5 high school) encompassing approximately 350 young athletes. SCLA has teams for boys in grades 1-8, junior varsity and varsity; and girls in grades 5-8, junior varsity and varsity. During the fall and spring seasons, SCLA teams participate in more than 300 games.
Lacrosse was originated by the North American Indian and is considered to be America’s first sport. The game is now played by two 10-member teams using a stick, called the crosse, to send the ball into each other’s goal. Players must master the ability to throw, catch and scoop the ball. A combination of basketball, soccer and hockey, quickness and speed are two highly prized qualities in lacrosse.
Neal Dibello, who played goalie for Princeton University, is a SCLA coach and offers a summer program for grades 3-8 called FasTrac Lacrosse, which includes a 45 minute clinic and 45 minute game. In addition, he will host a clinic for grades 9 and up on Sunday, June 16. Dibello teaches box lacrosse, a hockey or basketball style game played in a smaller space with 5 players plus goalies on each team.
“I have a huge passion for the game and want to grow the sport here,” says Dibello, who is originally from Syracuse, New York. “Texans love aggressive sports and have a competitive nature which is why I think it has become so popular. Natural athletes excel at lacrosse.”
In addition to Lacrosse Unlimited, TeamLAX Sporting Goods opened in January at 1101 East State Highway 114. Both stores carry a complete line of lacrosse equipment and apparel for men and women.
“We individually string each head with custom colors. This is a huge deal in lacrosse because the more individual the stick, the better you play,” explains Stein, noting the staff is very active in the sport.
For more information about lacrosse, go to www.southlakelacrosse.org or www.uslacrossentx.org.