Girls’ lacrosse prudent during inaugural fall preseason

CHECK+IT+OUT%3A+Sophomore+Riya+Amin+%28RBHS%29+and+junior+Holly+Dickinson+%28Columbia+Independent+School%29+practice+on+Thursday%2C+Sept.+19.+Girls+from+all+Columbia+schools+practice+as+a+part+of+the+Columbia+Girls+Lacrosse+Organization.+%28Photo+by+Sarah+Mosteller%29

CHECK IT OUT: Sophomore Riya Amin (RBHS) and junior Holly Dickinson (Columbia Independent School) practice on Thursday, Sept. 19. Girls from all Columbia schools practice as a part of the Columbia Girls Lacrosse Organization. (Photo by Sarah Mosteller)

Ryan Choe

The girls’ lacrosse team has started its season in a new fashion, as a set of fall preseason clinics began Sept. 17. The clinics are Tuesdays and Thursdays every week from 5-6:30 p.m. at West Middle School and will run through Oct. 17.

Previously, the team only had a competitive spring season from February to May. Columbia Girls Lacrosse Club President Tim Thomas said planning the clinics was an extensive process.

“Last year we offered some conditioning and player-[run] practices, but we wanted to boost attendance and give opportunities for girls to try out the sport before joining in January,” Thomas said. “We really built some momentum from the June clinics, and our board decided to see if we [could] replicate that for September to October. We discussed [plans] in late July and began making preparations, but we had to hire new coaches first and see if they could support [the team].”

Two of the coaches slated to step in are head coach Codi Schuver and assistant coach Jane Nelson. Schuver is unavailable to coach the team this fall, which leaves Nelson in charge of running the fall preseason scrimmages.

Nelson believes she brings a lot of experience to the team. She participated in Division 1 lacrosse at Central Michigan from 2015 to 2016, but stopped because of multiple concussions. Despite this being the first time Nelson will coach high schoolers, she has experience with youth and middle school teams.

“I am beyond excited to be the assistant coach of this lacrosse team. Lacrosse is a very developed sport on the East and West coasts but is still expanding into the Midwest,” Nelson said. “[This] has created unequal opportunities for players in the Midwest who are curious about learning the game of lacrosse but have no access to play it, and because lacrosse is still a growing sport in our area, the opportunity to help develop the girls’ skills and the program as a whole is a really exciting factor of my position.”

Nelson, however, won’t be treading the waters alone. The team will bring back sophomore midfielders Meghan Thomas and Evelyn Wilbur. Both girls enjoyed the sport last year and have higher hopes for the upcoming regular season.

“Meghan and I have worked really hard all summer to improve our lacrosse skills, [and] we [practiced] two to four hours a day,” Wilbur said. “We also did a lot with recruiting people to play and [helped] to plan how we want our team to be for this school year.”

Wilbur said she is particularly excited for the fall session because it will provide an opportunity for the influx of new players along with the other veterans to mesh and establish strong chemistry.

“I think this year is the first time in a while that the team has put our focus on bringing more players in and growing the program,” Wilbur said. “So I’m excited for a bigger team with some new faces.”

Thomas agrees with Wilbur that the increased size of and interest in the lacrosse team brings more excitement and energy. The larger numbers show the girls’ advertisement paid off.

For Thomas, the team provides more than just an outlet to have competitive lacrosse matches; it offers a welcoming and family-like environment.

“My favorite thing about lacrosse is definitely my team,” Thomas said. “I played softball previously for about six years and have never felt a team experience like this. We all keep up [morale] and support each other unconditionally, and it’s overall a really good environment for starting to learn and love the sport.”

The girls hope the fall scrimmages springboard excitement and momentum for the regular spring season. Anyone interested in joining lacrosse can contact Thomas at [email protected] The first regular season games for the team will start around March 1 and continue into early May.

The regular season schedule features a home tournament where teams from St. Louis, Kansas City and Springfield plan to compete. Furthermore, the team will also participate in tournaments in St Louis, Kansas City, Des Moines, Iowa., Lincoln, Neb., Bentonville, Ark. and Dunlap, Ill.

Before the girls can compete, however, the team must focus on learning to work together as much as possible during the fall preseason.

Nelson hopes this time helps excite the team for the spring regular season. Her main goal is for the girls to build up confidence and learn to excel at the fundamentals of lacrosse.

“Lacrosse is a difficult sport, but I believe that when the players master the basics, they can be an unstoppable force on the field,” Nelson said. “I am looking forward to working with the girls and helping them become the best players they possibly can be through helping them find a sense of purpose.”

How do you think the girls’ lacrosse team will do in the regular season? Let us know in the comments below.