YMCA of NWA Lacrosse - High School
by Kevin Martin
2008 Team Picture
Lacrosse in NWA a learning process
By Tom Glave Sports Writer // email@example.com
Posted on Saturday, June 14, 2008
BENTONVILLE — The state’s first high school lacrosse team had to put in a lot of miles to complete its inaugural season.
The Northwest Arkansas Knights finished 2-6 with all their games on the road — in Tulsa, Okla., Dallas, Kansas City and Springfield, Mo.
“ We had a good first season, ” Knights coach Kevin Martin said. “ It exceeded our expectations. ”
The team came together in the fall with players from northwest Arkansas as well as Russellville and Huntsville. The Knights had enough interest to form a junior high team for grades 5-8 as well as the high school team of 18 players.
The creation of the Knights got Arkansas off the short list of states without lacrosse teams. Seven other states — Alaska, Hawaii, Iowa, Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota and Wyoming — currently don’t have the sport, according to LaxPower. com.
Eighteen states — mostly in the northeast — have sanctioned boys and girls high school lacrosse while other states — including Washington and North Carolina — have organized, state-wide leagues for high school players.
The Knights earned a grant from US Lacrosse, the sport’s governing body, to buy equipment needed for the first season — sticks, helmets and pads.
The Knights played their games in March, April and May, picking up a win against the Kansas City and Rockwall, Texas, teams.
Trey Whistle, the Knights’ lone senior and a recent Springdale Har-Ber graduate, was one of four players that had prior lacrosse experience.
“ Four players on the high school team and four on the ju- nior high team had played before, which was nice, ” Martin said. “ For the most part, you can tell a lot of them did not have experience. So what we had to do was teach these kids how to play. It was a learning process. ”
Whistle moved to northwest Arkansas from Florida and moved from defense to offense to help the Knights.
“ He had an outstanding season, ” Martin said. “ We asked him to play a different position than what he had played before because he was one of the experienced players. ”
Whistle ended the season as the team’s leading scorer with 24 goals, including 7 in one game.
He also earned a scholarship to Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, an NCAA Division II school which just completed its first varsity season.
After having Whistle earn a scholarship, Martin said other Knights are excited about that opportunity.
“ It would be neat to send players on to college, ” Martin said. “ That would be our goal going forward. Several other kids have the same idea in mind. ”
Bentonville senior-to-be Rich Paumen was another experienced player for the Knights. Paumen, who moved to the area from Pennsylvania, was the team’s defensive captain.
“ His defensive background has helped make our defense a very tough defense, ” Martin said.
J. P. Piasecki of Rogers was a newcomer that stood out at midfield — lacrosse’s other position.
“ He’s just a good all around player, ” Martin said. “ He can faceoff and plays great defense and was the leading scorer in our last game. ”
Each lacrosse team has 10 players — a goalie, three attackmen, three midfielders and three defensemen — on a field roughly the same size as a soccer field.
Players use the crosse, or stick, to carry or pass a hard rubber ball up the field and shoot at the goal.
This year’s experience will help the Knights as lacrosse continues to grow in the area.
The team was invited to a meeting later this month in Tulsa to discuss creating an organized league in the four state area.
“ We tried to set up as evenly matched games as we could and so we really hit it off with a couple teams, ” Martin said. “(A league ) will be a great step forward and hopefully we’ll be able to add teams every year. ”