GLENDALE — With the first phase of the foundation completed, Joe Campbell will look to further strengthen the groundwork of the Glendale Lacrosse Club.
Campbell, one of two coaches overseeing the club, has got a pretty good idea of what will need to be done following the first year of the club’s existence. While he would someday soon like to see it become a CIF sanctioned team, Campbell first must begin the process of finding more athletes willing and ready to gather at Glendale High’s Moyse Field in hopes of learning and participating in the sport.
Campbell, a New York native who played lacrosse in high school and college before being inducted into the Lacrosse Hall of Fame’s Greater Los Angeles Chapter in January, said he’s betting new athletes will come around hoping to pick up a lacrosse stick and get a feel for what the sport has to offer before next season begins in February.
“I hope that the new people and the ones who played this year will be out playing pick-up games,” said Campbell, who started the programs for boys and girls with Dennis Foster nearly a year ago. “If the kids can get and stay involved, they will catch up pretty fast.
“You wouldn’t recognize our teams from the beginning of the season until now. There’s been a tremendous improvement. We want to see that continue.”
The boys’ team concluded its season May 31 with a 12-4 loss to visiting Saugus to drop to 3-7. The girls’ team finished its season at 3-6.
Campbell said the final records aren’t a proper indicator to the success achieved by each program.
“For some teams, it took them three years to win a game,” Campbell said. “Our kids started to pick it up.
“The boys lost a couple of games in overtime, but they were prepared to play. The girls are a little bit behind the boys, and we haven’t had a lot of time to spend with them.”
According to CIF Southern Section Director of Communications Thom Simmons, there are currently 58 and 42 boys’ and girls’ teams, respectively, who have CIF sanctioned lacrosse teams from Orange to Santa Barbara counties. For a school to have a CIF sanctioned program, it must sign a CIF sports participation sheet and have the school district’s approval.
While the sport isn’t funded by the Glendale Unified School District, Campbell would like to see Glendale be among the group of schools that have teams competing after it becomes sanctioned by CIF.
Junior Hrach Arutyunyan, an attacker on the boys’ team, would like to see the program become a member of the CIF. Getting more people on board might be one of the quicker ways for that to happen.
“That’s what happened to me last year,” Arutyunyan said. “I had a friend of mine who wanted to get me into it, and I thought it was a good idea.
“Now, I want to try and do that. It’s real fun to see others playing the game.”
Anel Cuevas, a junior defender on the girls’ squad, said the sport can continue to grow locally like it’s done in other parts of California and across the country.
“It can expand, but we are going to need a lot more girls who want to play,” said Cuevas, who played the sport for the first time in February. “Back in February, I had no idea what I was doing.
“Now, I know way more and I feel like I’m better.”
They have years of experience serving as construction teachers at Glendale High School, but their talents have also taken them from inside their cavernous classrooms to venerable Moyse Field.
Since last summer, Campbell and Foster have been hard at work drumming up interest in a sport that’s vastly popular along the Eastern Seaboard. There’s little concern for Campbell and Foster, who run the school’s construction academy and have been rather successful at introducing lacrosse to student-athletes normally accustomed to playing football, baseball, soccer and track and field.
They formed the Glendale Lacrosse Club for students eager to participate in the sport — invented by American Indians in the 15th Century. Students from Glendale High and other area schools have flocked in rising numbers to Moyse Field, hooked on picking up a white stick with a net on the end and flinging shots into the back of the net for the club’s boys’ and girls’ programs.
“Kids from around school came up to me and told me that they wanted to play,” said the 46-year-old Campbell, a New York native who played lacrosse in high school and college before being inducted into the Lacrosse Hall of Fame’s Greater Los Angeles Chapter in January. “I told them that I wouldn’t be starting a program for me, but instead be more for them to be self starters and get things done in their lives.
“Ninety-nine percent of the athletes are made, not born. It’s a game that allows you to make yourself into an athlete.”
There are about 30 players competing on the boys’ squad and around 20 on the girls’ team. The season runs February through May, highlighted with contests played mostly on the weekends from Glendale to La Quinta. A boys’ match will consist of four 12-minute quarters, while a girls’ match features two 25-minute halves.
CIF Southern Section Director of Communications Thom Simmons said there are currently 58 and 42 boys’ and girls’ teams, respectively, who have CIF sanctioned lacrosse teams from Orange to Santa Barbara counties. For a school to have a CIF sanctioned program, it must sign a CIF sports participation sheet and have the school district’s approval.
While the sport isn’t funded by the Glendale Unified School District, Campbell would like to see Glendale be among the group of schools that have teams competing after it became sanctioned by CIF. Campbell has flipped the bill to purchase equipment and had the team hold fundraisers.
Foster, 46, was a lacrosse novice, having spent his entire life residing in Southern California. He introduced himself to the sport last spring, and there’s rarely a moment that he’s not thinking about or playing the physical sport that’s widely considered a parallel to soccer and field hockey.
“When I thought of Moyse Field, the last thing I thought of was lacrosse until now,” Foster said. “It’s a sport that’s got a lot of adults in it, but I want to see it continue to grow.
“When I pick up a stick now, I can’t put it down. It’s an amazingly complex game, but one worth playing.”
The area club members, who also include athletes from Crescenta Valley and St. Francis highs and Clark Magnet School, agree with Foster’s mantra.
They’ve immediately come to grasp most of the basic fundamentals and comprehend the history of the sport that’s fast and fluent. Players are required to wear helmets, gloves and shoulder and elbow pads.
Players scoop the ball off the ground and pass the ball through the air to other players. They are allowed to run carrying the ball with their stick.
Michael Antonie played cornerback for two seasons on the Glendale High junior varsity football team. However, he gave up football before he considered lacrosse.
“I grew out of football because I realized it just wasn’t meant for me,” said Antonie, a senior goalkeeper. “You hear about lacrosse every now and then, but I never thought about it.
“You don’t hear much about it out here, but now I see that a lot of people are starting to talk about it. Last summer, I got a stick from Joe and he said for me to go out and throw the ball around. I started practicing and playing in scrimmages, and I’ve been hooked ever since.”
Antonie isn’t alone.
Defender Jennifer Ortega said there’s an immediate adrenaline rush trying to break up an offensive play or strutting down the field cradling the ball before unleashing a shot or looking to make a nifty pass.
“It’s a game of follow the leader and making teams fall into your traps,” said Ortega, a senior at Glendale High. “You hear people call it a ‘mean girls’ sport,’ but it’s turning into something big.
“I played basketball and volleyball for recreation, but my family asked me about lacrosse. I told them it’s something cool to experience and they supported me.”
Simmons said there’s been a recent growth with respect to lacrosse.
“We’ve seen the potential for growth [in Southern California],” Simmons said. “It’s growing across the nation.
“It’s a sport that’s an alternative for kids who don’t want to play baseball or track and field, for example.
There’s a contact mentality in the boys’ matches, and for the girls, it’s about the ball being played and moving it with the stick.”
Glendale Athletic Director Rene Valdes said athletes have rapidly developed a keen interest in the sport. He’s watched a few practices that have been intense and competitive.
“From what I’ve seen, I like the competition,” Valdes said. “Some coaches [of other sports] might be a little resistant in that athletes may be stolen, but that’s quite the opposite.
“It puts a little pressure on coaches to sell their programs. Joe’s done quite a phenomenal job. I’ve seen him break down film of games in the classroom with the kids.”
Ortega said she’s learning more about the game — and its history — by closely listening to Campbell and Foster. The lectures and advice continue to entice Ortega to keep playing the sport.
“I’m hooked to lacrosse and I don’t want to stop here,” she said.