Lacrosse team aims to grow as season begins

Attackers Gavyn Norwood and Michael Cortez (in white), go against defense KJ Seale and Grant Morgan (in blue) during lacrosse practice on Feb. 23 at McInnish Park.

Nyla Smith

Attackers Gavyn Norwood and Michael Cortez (in white), go against defense KJ Seale and Grant Morgan (in blue) during lacrosse practice on Feb. 23 at McInnish Park.

The new season for lacrosse has begun. The Hebron lacrosse team plays its next game March 8 at 7:30 p.m. against Prosper Junior Varsity at the Prosper High School field.

Based on baggataway, a tribal game believed to be played by the Iroquois people in 1100 A.D. in what is now New York and Canadian areas, lacrosse has become a popular game in the U.S. and is slowly growing in Texas. 

“I’m originally from New York, and [in] New York, lacrosse is the football of our [state],” head coach Brendan Carney, who also teaches world geography at Hebron 9, said. “Last year we did very well. [We] came third in the state and went 9-3 with the No. 3 team in our division, [Trinity Valley], so we’re going in the right direction.”

Currently, lacrosse is not a UIL-sanctioned sport, but a club-based sport that members have to pay to be a part of. With that being said, not every school has the sport available, so each team consists of members from neighboring schools that are under one lacrosse club. 

“[Despite us not all being from the same school,] I have a great relationship with my teammates,” attacker Gavyn Norwood said. “Having that trust and bond with them helps us succeed. Whether it’s picking each other up after a mistake or celebrating a win, we are always there for each other.”

The modern version of lacrosse was introduced to Texas in 1971, in the John Hopkins Blue Jays vs. The Navy Midshipmen match, which was played in the Houston Astrodome. It attracted over 18,000 fans, and set a record up until the late 1980s. This cemented lacrosse’s spot as a well-supported sport in Texas.

“There’s no reason that [lacrosse] shouldn’t be [a UIL sport],” captain Jaxson Davis said. “I think more people would play if they actually knew about it. In private schools, it’s supported. I know that [lacrosse] will be [supported] in the next couple of years [by public schools], but for now, it just makes everything harder.” 

Multiple efforts have been made to make lacrosse a state-sanctioned sport, however, nothing has come of it. Because of this, teams and coaches are not given the same commodities as those of UIL sports, such as baseball and basketball. The teams of non-UIL sports have to practice on fields off-campus; Hebron lacrosse practices at McInnish Park, a field around 10 miles from Hebron. 

“I have dreams for [lacrosse to be a UIL sport in Texas],” Carney said. “It’s tough for me, teaching here, watching the coaches do their thing and [having] their offices and fields, [while] I’m sitting here going, ‘I’ll do all my work at home.’ There’s nothing like being a part of your school, and wearing the super-H on your chest.”

Despite the fact that lacrosse isn’t state-sanctioned, Carney and his other coaches have made an effort to fully incorporate the sport into the community. Practice for the season starts in January, and the games start somewhere in the middle of February. As there are 5th-6th grade, 7th-8th grade and high school level teams, each member is heavily encouraged to indulge in other sports while being on the team, as the sport has aspects of others ranging from football to soccer, to help them perform better in their matches.

“We want to make this a big-time sport [and] make this the football of spring,” Carney said. “Every person that watches this sport falls in love with it.”

Lacrosse is also a popular sport among women in the community, a plethora of them being Division 1 athletes. For the past two years, the Tewaaraton Award, the championship cup for lacrosse, has been awarded to Charlotte North, a senior attacker from Dallas. Carney plans to make an all-girls team as well.

“The next step [is] getting my program up [to where] everyone’s talking about it — then [the] girls program [is] next,” Carney said. “We’re a big school; there’s so many athletes walking around this campus, [and] there’s no reason for them not to be running around.”

Carney moved to Texas and started coaching in 2006. He started a program in McKinney and, after that team won the state championships, he moved to Flower Mound for a couple of years. With the Hebron lacrosse team being an on-and-off project, he was called by Ray Gibson, the former president of the Hebron Lacrosse association, to help make it something more consistent, and brought his defensive coordinator, Sam Stevenson, with him. With the track record of the team, Carney said he believes it will have a bright future, changing the viewpoint of the sport within Hebron. 

“The goal [is] to turn Hebron into a lacrosse school,” Carney said. “Coppell was [a lacrosse school] a while back because they won three state championships in a row. That’s our goal: to become the next ‘hey, you want to play lacrosse? You should [go to] Hebron.’”