GLEN DALE - Lacrosse, known as America's oldest sport and now one of its the fastest growing student sports, has made its way to Marshall County as the new lacrosse team at John Marshall High School prepares for its first game next month.
No longer considered just an "Ivy League" game, lacrosse has grown in popularity in the local area attracting students from a variety of athletic backgrounds.
The JMHS team is now among four teams in Ohio and Marshall counties in a sport attracting more and more students across the country.
Photo by Sarah Harmon
John Marshall High School lacrosse team members practice on their field.
Coached by lacrosse newcomer Thomas Salkovick, the club team has been testing out its chops on the field in preparation for the spring season.
The idea of starting a lacrosse team at John Marshall was first introduced last year when sophomore Jason Masters, inspired by his lifelong love of the sport, approached the school's athletic department about recruiting players and raising funds for sticks and helmets.
"It's something I've always wanted to do," Masters said. "I figured instead of waiting around for somebody to start a team, I'd see if I could start one."
It surprised even Masters how many students expressed interest in joining the team. In its first year, the team already has 24 players on the roster.
They will play their first game against Bridgeport High School in Bridgeport, W.Va. at 3 p.m. April 6 on the John Marshall soccer field behind the school.
Having never played lacrosse, Salkovick said he is learning about the sport just as much as his players are. Salkovick was a businessman before beginning his teaching career a few years ago.
A physical education teacher at Sherrard Middle School, he describes coaching as his hobby.
"I used to coach some of these young men at Sherrard Middle School for the eighth grade football team," Salkovick said. "When I heard they needed a coach, I said I'd be happy to help out. The lacrosse community is very welcoming and very nice."
Lacrosse is played much like hockey, but with a stick (the crosse) which the player uses to throw, catch and scoop the ball. There are faceoffs to begin each of the four, 15-minute quarters. The playing field is 110 yards long. The goals are 80 yards apart, with 15 yards of playing area behind each goal. Each team fields 10 players and each goal scored is worth one point.
Joey Subasic, WPHS boys lacrosse coach and vice-president of the West Virginia State Lacrosse Association, said lacrosse has been growing in the area every year since teams were first created eight years ago at Wheeling Park, Linsly and Wheeling Central high schools.
"I've never met a kid who did not like playing lacrosse," Subasic said. "The culture is completely different. If you meet anybody with a lacrosse shirt, there is an instant bond. I can't put my finger on it."
Subasic hopes to further expand lacrosse in the Ohio Valley by starting more middle school teams to act as feeders to the high school level. Additionally, Subasic said there are "rumblings" of starting high school teams in Hancock, Brooke and Belmont counties.
Game schedules for local lacrosse teams can be found at www.laxinwv.com.