Ahwatukee high schools experience record growth in lacrosse - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Community Focus

Ahwatukee high schools experience record growth in lacrosse

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Posted: Sunday, September 22, 2013 9:45 am | Updated: 4:43 pm, Fri Oct 18, 2013.

When speaking about high school sports, most individuals are mainly concerned about how the football season is going.

However, there is one sport in particular that’s stirring up a buzz at both Desert Vista and Mountain Pointe high schools: lacrosse.

DV’s girls lacrosse team has been experiencing tremendous growth since first hitting the sports scene in 2005, nearly doubling the number of athletes since last season with 35 players.

The increasing number allowed for the sport to form a junior and varsity team for the first time, board president Ann Miller said.

“Lacrosse is a fast-growing team sport in the country and combines some of the best aspects of other sports into one sport, allowing players of all sizes and skill sets the ability to contribute,” Miller said. “At the high school level the game is now sanctioned as a championship sport in 21 states, but in most western states, including Arizona, the sport is predominately a club sport and not school sanctioned.”

The lacrosse recruiting process begins early, by allowing seventh- and eighth-graders to participate in the junior varsity level, and when they enter high school they’re able to move up to varsity.

Being the sport is not sanctioned by the school, the girls team has had to fund equipment themselves and look for different areas outside of school grounds to conduct practices.

“Practices are generally held five days each week at local park areas, with Pecos Park being the Lady Thunder’s home field for all games,” Miller said. “By league regulations we are allowed to begin practicing for the spring season in November.”

The growth of the sport came from the passion each player has for lacrosse, and board members for the girls lacrosse team have no interest in slowing down.

Miller and others are hopeful with the growing popularity of girls lacrosse that in the near future the sport will be sanctioned by the high schools.

Board members will host an informational meeting for individuals who would like to sign up for lacrosse on Wednesday, Oct. 2 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in DV’s cafeteria, 16440 S. 32nd St.

Both varsity captains Gabriella Gambadoro and Ivy Richey have both been involved with the sport since middle school.

Gambadoro, who plays midfield and attack, comes from an extensive sports family, having both her sisters playing soccer and her father being a sports newscaster.

She dabbled in the sport of soccer, just like her sisters, but chose to go against the grain, picking up a new sport.

Lacrosse has been working out just fine for her, as she received Rookie of the Year during her freshman season and back-to-back Most Valuable Player honors during her sophomore and junior year.

Richey, who plays defense, also had a background in soccer, along with playing flag football.

She decided to join lacrosse in middle school and has been enjoying it ever since.

“I think lacrosse is a great way to meet new people who enjoy the same things as you do, and everyone I met through it have been great life-long friends,” Richey said.

DV’s boys lacrosse team has also grown, with player Cade van Raaphorst receiving a partial scholarship to Duke University.

“It’s unbelievable. It still doesn’t seem like a reality… It’s exciting and a dream come true,” van Raaphorst said.

He believes the growth of the sport comes from the coaches who moved to the area, sharing their knowledge of the sport.

“They played at an elite college level and understand the game more than the previous group of coaches.

And you can clearly see their love and passion for the game,” van Raaphorst said.

The Pride of Mountain Pointe has also gained some attraction toward the sport of lacrosse, with boys lacrosse entering its 11th season.

Larry Noble, head coach for Pride’s boys lacrosse, said that back in 2003 the sport only had 25 players, and now they average about 60 players.

“I think once young players get to see the sport, they become interested in something they haven’t seen before,” Noble said. “The growth of the sport, not only in Arizona but in the entire West Coast, has been phenomenal.”

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or dochoa@ahwatukee.com.

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