For Lincoln Lacrosse president, Will Harris, America's fastest growing sports wasn't his first love. It was swimming.
"I didn't see lacrosse until I got to college at Lewis & Clark college here in Oregon,'' Harris recalled. "I was immediately fascinated but didn't consider getting engaged. I left Oregon for 10 years and when I came back my several of my friends had started a post collegiate men's club team."
At 29 years old, Harris took a dive into the lacrosse world.
Lincoln Lacrosse has been in business for 20 years. Five years ago, he added youth lacrosse for both boys and girls. And it makes him feel good when the high school kids help out the youth level.
"They are all age segregated, but connected through High School players reffing youth games and being engaged in the 1st and 2nd grade program,'' Harris said. ''We think creating Lincoln Cardinal Lacrosse players early means something. We want being a Lincoln Lacrosse player to mean something."
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Yes, Harris is fully involved in lacrosse in Portland. He also coaches the high school team. And there have been ups and downs at Lincoln High. Starting in 2007, his high school team dropped five semi-finals matches in a row. And then the tide turned as his team won four of five state championships.
Harris is also a realist. He realizes his lacrosse club team isn't the only one around.
"Lincoln is no different than other programs in Oregon,'' Harris admitted. "The successful ones like Lincoln have coaching longevity, supportive parent boards that don't micromanage, and vertical integration. A smaller few like Lincoln have engaged Alumni that are giving back to our programs with coaching and mentorship."
The program's latest club? It goes back to first and second-graders. Now the program from the youngest to the oldest houses around 300 players. The former swimmer is clearly a fan of this outdoor sport.
"It's just flat out fun to play or watch,'' Harris said. "It's always provides excellent opportunities for all kinds of athletes to find a role and succeed. As in all sports speed, size, and strength are key. However, small undersized players can still succeed with hard work, smart play, and better stickwork...particularly at the high school level.
So is Harris a lifer in this very successful lacrosse program?
I don't know, Harris noted. "I love the kids, love the sport, and love to see what all my players go on to do. In four years, my kids will be off to college. Maybe I'll have other things I want to do, but I will always stay around the program somehow, its part of me."
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