East coach influence driving growth in lacrosse

Granite Bay boys get ready for major tournament
By: Kurt Johnson, The Press Tribune
-A +A
The sight of young people running across the grass carrying that long stick with the net on the end is becoming increasingly common around town. The stick is called a crosse and the sport is lacrosse, popular in the eastern United States, but still in its infancy out here on the west coast. Granite Bay High School started its program nine years ago, and is on the leading edge of its growth in the Sacramento area. That growth is led by Granite Bay head coach Scott Pink, who came from the east coast and brought the sport he loves with him. He has seen his program continue to attract more athletes and seen the formation of a youth program. “If you would have told me a few years ago that there would be the number of teams and athletes competing right here in the area,” said Pink in a news release regarding his appointment to a national board for the sport a year ago, “I would have never believed it. This is beyond my wildest dreams.” Pink continues to be impressed with the way the sport is developing. This year, Woodcreek added a club lacrosse team as well. Granite Bay’s boys team is preparing for a major test that will help it see where it stands in the development of its program. The Grizzlies will compete July 17-18 is the All West Showcase in San Francisco. The event is put on by Matt Oglesby, whose company, All West Lacrosse is pushing lacrosse growth in Northern California. “We are all about Northern California,” Oglesby said. “We want to foster and develop the Northern California lacrosse market. That’s our mission.” Oglesby was a three-time All American and the ACC player of the year at Duke University, and after relocating to the Bay Area and working for Nike in developing markets for lacrosse, he started his own company focused on that goal. “When I got here (in 1996) there were about 700 lacrosse players in Northern California,” Oglesby said. “Now there are 20,000 players and there will be 100,000 kids playing the sport by 10 years from now. Within 10 years this is going to be a major player in lacrosse.” The growth is fueled by getting players involved at a younger age. “Kids play the big sports early,” Oglesby said. “We need kids to pick up the stick at four years old like they do with any other sport.” The upcoming showcase is not necessarily a college recruiting event, but there will be some top schools represented, with Dom Starsia, the head coach at Virginia among them. There are currently no Division I west coast schools playing NCAA lacrosse. It is still a club sport in this part of the country, but Oglesby has high hopes. For now, the showcase is a chance for players to show their own coaches what they can do. “We started this event to give high school teams a place to do during their off-season where coaches could see their players outside their regular school season,” Oglesby said. “It was a chance for junior varsity players to showcase themselves for their varsity coaches.” The tournament is being played for the first time at a brand new facility on Treasure Island in San Francisco, and will feature 32 top lacrosse teams in Northern California. Granite Bay will play in the top Gold division. “The Upper Gold Division will feature teams comprised of players from San Ramon Valley, Monte Vista and Bellarmine Prep, all of which were ranked in the top 10 in Northern California last year,” Pink said. “I think we will be competitive in the Gold Division. We are very young, but quite athletic and very determined. It will be a good test to how far we have come as a program.”