California College Lacrosse: Humboldt State Men’s Lacrosse Has Rejoined Western Collegiate Lacrosse League (WCLL) After 11-Year Absence

Sophomore midfielder Gus Johnson receives a pass during an Oct. 24 game against University Nevada Reno at the Arcata Community Fields.

The Humboldt State Lacrosse Club existed for nearly 30 years, but had no head coach until Tony Silvaggio arrived in 2007. He arrived with a plan for Humboldt County.

Born in Syracuse, New York, in the heart of lacrosse country, Silvaggio wants to see this community embrace the culture of lacrosse that he grew up with on the East Coast.

“Back there, kids get born and get thrown a lacrosse stick instead of a soccer ball,” said Silvaggio.  “Out here people don’t even know what the hell it is. We don’t have a culture, foundation, or an infrastructure to support it and I’m here to develop that.”

Lacrosse is difficult to describe to those unfamiliar to the game. It is played with a stick (the crosse) with a net at the end, which a player uses to throw, catch, and scoop the ball.

Lacrosse is a game full of long sprints up and down the field, sudden starts and stops, as well as precision passes.  It combines the strength of football with the quickness and agility of soccer and basketball.

Since he became the coach of the men’s lacrosse team two years ago, Silvaggio has accomplished a lot. He reinstated the men’s team into the Western Collegiate Lacrosse League (WCLL) for the upcoming season after an 11-year hiatus from the league. For the previous decade, the Humboldt State Lacrosse Club existed as an independent team, free of any league ties.

“Seeing that we weren’t in a league until this season, a lot of people coming out of high school in California didn’t know that HSU had a lacrosse team,” said senior midfielder Uriah Johnson. “That’s a reason that our team has a lot of inexperienced players.”

Last year, Silvaggio helped found the first ever women’s lacrosse team at HSU last year. In the fall of 2008, junior McKenna Caudill and Japanese exchange student Ann Lee Kadaka were in the Quad looking for the one club sport that wasn’t there, women’s lacrosse.

“We were at the Quad looking for a women’s team, but there wasn’t one, so we ended up going to the men’s table and we found each other and just decided to make a team ourselves,” said Caudill.

With help from Silvaggio as well as Jan Henry of the Club Sport and Intramural Office, Caudill and Kadaka formed the women’s lacrosse team that same semester. By spring they had a full roster and were provisional members of the Western Women’s Lacrosse League (WWLL).

According to the national lacrosse organization, U.S. Lacrosse, there are now over 500 collegiate teams across the country. The game has been dubbed the nation’s fastest growing sport and many believe it to be North America’s oldest sport.

Native Americans first played the game in what is now Southern Quebec and Ontario, as well as in New England and the Great Lakes region.

To Native Americans, lacrosse had a spiritual and cultural significance. Lacrosse was played during harvest time to celebrate the changing of the seasons and as a right of passage for men. Since then, the game developed and standardized in the late 1800s in Canada into the modern game that we see today.

Tristan Carbery, team captain and junior kinesiology major, calls lacrosse a unique and dynamic game. “They call it the fastest game on two feet for a reason,” he said. “If anyone hasn’t watched a lacrosse game they should, because I guarantee they will get hooked.”

Date                                           Opponent                                 Time
Saturday Feb 20th               @ Southern Oregon University               1pm
Saturday March 6th            @ Willamette University                         12 pm
Sunday March 7th               @ Portland State University                    12 pm*
Saturday March 27th         @ San Jose State University                     12 pm
Saturday April 17th            UC Santa Cruz @ Humboldt                     11 am
Sunday April 18                    UC Merced @ Humboldt                             11 am
Saturday April 24th            @ University Nevada Reno                       12 pm
Sunday April 25th               University of Pacific @ Redding                1 pm
* tentative


One response to “California College Lacrosse: Humboldt State Men’s Lacrosse Has Rejoined Western Collegiate Lacrosse League (WCLL) After 11-Year Absence

  1. Tony is doing a great job getting HSU lax back on track, without him the team would continue to flounder. I am certain he will make HSU a very competitive program in the WCLL for years to come. He is the right person at the right time. It helps greatly that he is a professor at HSU that is very experience and dedicated to the game. He is the first non-student to run the team.

    I need to correct a few things though. The team was in the WCLL from ’85 to about ’95. The team had four coaches in the early years that helped organize and develop a competitive team. Team founder and first head coach was James Kircher from ’84-’87, followed by Judge Taylor ’87-’90, Mark Doodah ’91, James Kircher ’92-’93 and then Jeff Bedwell in ’94. Jeff coached the most succesful season of HSU lax with victories over teams we had never beaten before and teams that were at the D1 level in the WCLL. Once Jeff left the team was soon dropped from the WCLL until Tony picked up the torch. The only colleges with teams in the WCLL before HSU that still have teams were Cal, Stanford, Cal Poly SLO, UC Davis, UOP and Santa Clara.

    The girls did have a competitive team in the WWLL back in the late ’80’s and early ’90’s. They were started by Patti Taylor. Once she graduated the team held together for a few years with some quality coaches and players but like most club teams without any real dedicated leadership they folded about ’96.

    Tony, Brian Platz and myself are putting together a website to support the team and get HSU lax alumni informed and involved. It will be up soon at Until it is up, any lax alumni can contact me at


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