Lacrosse is a common sport from elementary school on up through college on the east coast. In Montana it’s relatively new with high school aged boys teams and younger growing over the past decade, and girls teams just a couple of years old.
This past weekend the third ever state championship tournament was held in Whitefish. Flathead Boys Lacrosse Coach Matt Rizzolo is coaching the Valley-wide high school team.
“Well, there’s 9 High School level teams; there’s 5 JV teams, and there’s a whole bunch of lower level teams across the whole state. We should be expanding to at least 11 teams next year as well. We get about 30-32 players each year to come out for the High School team, it’s growing every year,” Rizzolo said boys lacrosse has been around in the Flathead for about 8 years, but really got organized 3-years ago.
That’s also when Erin Grieco started up Flathead Girls Lacrosse. She said last year they had 8 players, this is her biggest turnout yet.
“I have 23 right now. 5 of them are young’uns, and the rest of them are high school girls. But, luckily, a lot 8th grade, 9th grade, 10th grade and 11th. I only have one senior. So, at least I get them for a couple more years,” Grieco said.
Each team fields 12 players. All carry sticks about arm-length with a net on the end. Players use a stick to catch, throw, scoop up the ball from the ground, and shoot on the goal.
Grieco said she grew up playing lacrosse on the east coast, and wants to see it grow out here.
“Having lived in Oregon for two years and getting that started on the high school level while U of O was still a club, and now to see them… where lacrosse is second nature in Oregon, that’s what just I envision in Flathead, and I think it would be so cool. And then maybe more adults will come play, and we can have club teams for us that used to play!” Grieco said.