Make Officiating Cool Again, Davis Boys & Girls Voted First in Region 1 Preseason Polls, Santa Barbara Tournament This Weekend
Issue 79 - Plus, Alta takes the top spot in Region 8 (boys), Skyridge voted No. 1 in Region 4 (girls)
Good morning lacrosse fans! The high school regular season begins in just a few short weeks. College teams are underway and Duke lost to an unranked team in February so all is right in the lacrosse world.
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Armchair Lacrosse Coach: Time To Make Officiating Cool Again
Armchair coaching is super easy. You are seated for one, which is nice. You have a sweet view from high above. You get to point out mistakes, rely almost exclusively on hindsight and generally have zero accountability. Not a bad gig.
But as I continue my armchair coaching work, I can't help but wonder if I could expand my breadth of expertise to include Armchair Lacrosse Officiating. Seems like an aspirational fit considering my skill set outlined above.
However, after doing some research, I have been informed by the local lacrosse officials that they have all the armchair lacrosse officials they need. It has also been brought to my attention that armchair officiating and armchair coaching are essentially the same thing and provide absolutely no value. Agree to disagree for now.
What the Utah Lacrosse Community (and our game in general) does need are more real live (non-seated) humans to join the officiating ranks. As the game continues to grow in Utah and around the country the need to add more capable and dedicated officials at all levels has never been greater. The reasons for this shortage are many but those issues need to be addressed in a separate column. For this session, I'm choosing to focus on the merits, virtues and overall importance of lacrosse officiating.
In order to understand this issue further, research was needed. I chose to reach out to some local stakeholders to get their take starting with some coaches. Here is what one local coach wrote back to me about officials.
“In my coach's mind, officials were always these people who mysteriously emerged from the depths of the lacrosse underworld on game day to play the role of strict parent and safety czar. Basically the fun police. Then after the final whistle, they would vanish. Don’t get me wrong, these spotlight-hungry rule zealots are absolutely necessary as they are required to keep the game fair and safe, but I never understood how they never ever seem to get any calls right, no matter how hard we plead with them from the sidelines. They seem to have it out for our team, game in and game out. Who would ever want to be “the ref”? They must be gluttons for punishment or performing community service to get out of traffic tickets or something. I mean they travel in “crews”. These crews are essentially lacrosse gangs and lacrosse gangs are bad news.” ~ Unnamed Local Coach
After reading this I had to find out more as the problem could be way worse than thought. The next step was to speak with the Officials directly and learn more about the job. Here is what I found out.
Officials are actual humans and not rule robots sent to destroy us. They are good people who truly care about the sport. Officials have a really tough job considering the speed and nuance of our game. Plus they have to put up with a lot of…insert spicey words here. In a recent discussion with one of their overlords (I mean leaders), I was told they take great pride in performing their duties to the point where all of them are trying their best to do an excellent job no matter the conditions. Standards of performance are high. Standards for safety are even higher. Upon further reflection, taking the role of Mr. or Mrs. Official is very likely the most selfless thing you can do to help our sport grow and succeed.
Now, jokes aside, this might be one of the most important and least time-intensive ways to have a positive impact on the trajectory of our sport as it enters the all-important mid-adolescent years. After 20+ years of solid lacrosse being played in our state at the high school and collegiate levels, we should realistically have a never-ending pipeline of experience and potential talent to tap into. However, for this group, there seems to be a coaching or bust mentality in order to be involved. The reality is most folks don’t have schedules that are conducive to coaching regularly due to work, family and other obligations.
But many people can contribute 3 hours a week to officiating. That’s one game a week and it could have a tremendous influence on where our game goes from here. The world of lacrosse people is one of the smallest known to man. My guess is less than 3 degrees of separation between you and every lacrosse person within 500 miles in every direction. Let your people know that lacrosse needs them to come back and that Officiating is cool again!
Reasons you should become an official:
Officiating lacrosse games is cool. Cool uniforms. Cool hand signals. Cool instruments and projectiles.
Huge impact with little time required. You can make your own schedule.
Get some exercise. Show everyone that you still got it in between the lines.
Give back to the community and have a positive impact on the lives of young people.
Earn extra money. Yes, you get paid.
More officials means more 3 person crews. Makes the game safer and fairer.
Have a positive impact on the trajectory of the game. Help improve the level of play through quality officiating.
If you have playing or coaching experience, you have a huge advantage over folks that are still learning the game. The speed and nuance of lacrosse are a few of the attributes that make it great. They are also the reasons it can be challenging to officiate. Leverage your experience to become a great official.
The cool factor. Zebras are cool. Black ankle socks are cool.
The local officials make it easy to join! More information below.
If you are interested in officiating, please visit Utah Women’s Lacrosse Officials Association (Womens HS and Collegiate) and the Utah Lacrosse Officials Association (Mens HS and Collegiate). If you are interested in officiating at the youth level, please visit Intermountain Lacrosse (IMLAX).
I will put my money where my mouth is and commit to officiating one Boys HS game per week for the 2022 Spring season. Hopefully, you will join me. See you out there!
Utah headed to No. 17 Vermont and earned Coach McMinns first win at the helm of the Utes with an 11-10 victory. It was the first loss Vermont suffered at home since April of 2019. Josh Rose scored the game-winning goal with 1:28 left in the fourth quarter after Vermont had scored 5 straight goals to tie the game at 10 late in the fourth. The Utes will have a bye week before taking on Marquette on February 26. (Recap | Box Score)
In MCLA action, BYU made its annual trip to Boise and beat Washington State and Boise State, 19-3 and 18-5 respectively.
Utah State hosted in-state foes Utah club and UVU this weekend. The Utah club team edged out the Aggies with a 12-7 win on Friday while UVU won ‘The Battle of the Brothers’, 13-8. The Aggies will embark on a very challenging road trip beginning on February 21 as they face perenial MCLA D-II powers NDSU, St. John’s, St. Thomas and Minn-Duluth.
Upcoming Men’s Schedule
2/18 - Utah club @ College of Idaho - 6:00 pm
2/20 - Utah club @ Idaho - 1:00 pm
2/21 - Utah State @ North Dakota State - 6:00 pm
2/22 - Utah State @ St. John’s - 6:00 pm
2/22 - BYU @ Westminster (Scrimmage) - 6:00 pm
2/24 - Utah State @ St. Thomas - 5:00 pm
2/25 - Utah State @ Minn-Duluth - 3:30 pm
2/26 - Utah @ Marquette - Noon
The University of Utah Women's Lacrosse team is heading into the 2022 season with Courtney Wagner at the helm. Wagner played at Messiah in Pennsylvania.
“We are most excited to have a full and competitive season,” said Wagner. The past few years the Utes have had their season shortened due to COVID-19. They are gearing up to play their biggest competition BYU, AKA “The Holy War” game. BYU and the University of Utah are not new rivalry games. These two teams have battled it out in competitive games every year. Joining Wagner is Wesley Allen who previously coached at Herriman.
Utah heads to the Santa Barbara Tourmanet this weekend to take on Washington, Virginia, Arizona State and UC Davis. You can follow the team on Instagram and view its full schedule here.
The BYU Cougars are led by Summer Stephenson who was promoted to head coach after spending the last two seasons as an assistant coach for the Cougars. Devinne Hart, Christine Duffy and Savanaa Sutherland are also on staff and eager to start.
“We are excited to take the program to the next level and crush it on levels on and off the field,” said Stephenson. “We’re excited to take on Utah State and Utah this season.”
The Cougars are also heading to Santa Barbara this weekend and will take on Texas, Oregon State and Virginia. You can follow the team on Instagram and view its full schedule here.
Utah State is led by Naomi Hunsaker who played for Aggies for 4 years and is joined by Faith Ritchie.
“With COVID restrictions allowing our team to do more, we are beyond excited to travel,” said Hunsaker. “We anticipate a fun season stacked with a good variety of teams to play. Traveling as a team is a great bonding experience and gives the girls a lot to look forward to this season.
The Aggies will join Utah and BYU in Santa Barbara this weekend. You can follow the team on Instagram and view its full schedule here.
Boys High School
We continue on with the Boys region preseason rankings. Previous region previews: Region 3, Region 4, Region 6, Region 11.
Our preseason rankings and coaches poll are brought to you by Salty Lacrosse.
Region 1 Preseason Rankings
Davis Darts Midfielder Rhett Rice
Davis enters the preseason as the favorite to repeat as Region 1 champs. The Darts were a perfect 14-0 in region play last year. Farmington jumped to 6A this season and will join Fremont and Weber as contenders to dethrone the Darts. I’ve asked a handful of coaches/fans about Region 1 and the message is the same: It’s going to be a competitive region. The Darts will open its season on March 11 at Corner Canyon. The lone looming question is can someone from Region 1 crack into the semifinals?
There is a stretch in mid-April where Davis hosts Fremont and travels to Farmington which could have significant region champ implications.
2022 Region 1 Preseason Rankings
Region 1 Players to Watch
Hudson Dugger (Clearfield), Logan Haney (Clearfield), Trevor Juber (Clearfield), Rhett Rice (Davis), Emerson Bell (Davis), Mason Gagner (Davis), Mason Hepworth (Farmington), Nick Carrino (Farmington), Dexter Snell (Farmington), Boston Rhees (Fremont), Davis Searle (Fremont), Carson Isaacson (Fremont), John Murdock (Layton), Davis Rydman (Layton), Ethan Jacob Erikson (Layton), Colby Dickson (Roy), Sage Moreno (Roy), Kotah Sudyka (Roy), Noah Yeates (Syracuse), Hunter Watson (Syracuse), Connor Stucki (Syracuse), Corbin Alvord (Weber), Squish Easley (Weber), Kole Haymond (Weber).
Region 8 Preseason Rankings
Alta Attackman Berkley Horoba
Alta enters the season fresh off a Division II title and the favorite to take home the Region 8 title. Alta attackman Berkley Horoba will look to add supporting cast like he had last year in Will Waddoups and Rogan Babka. Horoba had an incredible club season and will hope to carry it forward into the high school season. Non-region games for the Hawks include rival Brighton, Cherokee Trail (CO), Olympus and Park City. Timpview graduated a ton of contributors including 4 of the top 5 scorers but Senior Charlie Freedman will lead the T-Birds. Third place is up for grabs.
April 26 will feature Timpview hosting Alta in what could ultimately decide the region title.
2022 Region 8 Preseason Rankings
Region 8 Players to Watch
Berkley Horoba (Alta), Andrew Parry (Alta), Mason Egan (Alta), David Parchment (Jordan), Kuuai Aino (Jordan), Nicholas Nigbur (Jordan), Steel Cooper (Lehi), Kiezek Larsen (Lehi), Tyler Dejany (Lehi), Kenny James (Orem), Sawyer Beck (Orem), Jacob Hemmert (Orem), Cody Baxter (Timpanogos), Dylan Browne (Timpanogos), Matu Holdaway (Timpanogos), Charlie Freedman (Timpview), Aiden Rawle (Timpview), Finnbar Williams (Timpview).
Girls High School
Region 1 Preseason Rankings
2021 Davis Darts
Reaching out to Coach Hekking at Davis High School about Region 1 season. Davis is excited with the changes in Region 1. Having an upcoming team like Farmington is a great benefit to all of Region 1. Davis is inspired to drive to the best they can be to compete against the up and coming Farmington High School. Last year Fremont was Davis' biggest competition in Region play. They have a lot of talented girls. We’re all anxious to see how the new coaching staff at Fremont High will change this year's team. Syracuse will be seen this year. Their dominant player, senior Brooke Suttlemyre, will be back from her amazing 2021 season with 115 -Goals. Syracuse started 2021 with about 90% of their team being new to the game of lacrosse, The season started out like all new teams, a bit bumpy but they geared up fast and became a very competitive and impressive team by the end of Spring 2021. Clearfield had a hard season last year, with Coach Noorda joining them as a head coach this season from Fremont High School puts them in a race to compete.
3/23 5:00pm Davis @ Fremont
3/29 4:30pm Syracuse @ Fremont
3/31 4:30pm Clearfield @ Farmington
2022 Region 1 Preseason Rankings
Region 1 Players to Watch
Ragan Julander (Clearfield), Ellé Sheen (Clearfield), Addie Stark (Clearfield), Macie Wood (Davis), Ava Bair (Davis), Morgan Bunch (Davis), Hayley Larsen (Farmington), Kate Carter (Farmington), Avery Yates (Farmington), Taelor Goodwin (Fremont), McKaylee Sargent (Fremont), Ashton Gold (Fremont), Rylee Webster (Layton), Kyla Arnes (Layton), Sieara Christensen (Layton), June Turner (Layton), Avery Smith (Roy), Allee Leishman (Roy), Tailor Butterfield (Roy), Brooklyn Suttlemyre (Syracuse), Gabby Fessler (Syracuse), Lauren Fairbanks (Syracuse), Carlie Murray (Weber), Amy Frost (Weber), Adrea Moon (Weber).
Region 4 Preseason Rankings
“We love Region 4 and are excited to see the growth and hard work from all our Region teams,” said Skyridge Head Coach Colin Gill. If you know Skyridge you know the Buechner sisters, these two are skilled, strong and driven both entering this season with scholarships to fantastic Universities. Watch these two as they battle through the season with a confident and knowledgeable team.
Westlake is stepping into this season with the knowledge and growth from their first season in 2021. The team is excited to see their returning players step up as leader for all their new players to join this year.
“With so much inexperienced we get to play in a fun and free fashion where literally everyone is learning,” says Westlake Head Coach Stash Dabrowski.
Pleasant Grove is looking to build off of last season with confidence and passion for lacrosse. They are focusing their season on building an ever stronger team and keeping their sights solely on taking state.
“We are extremely determined to take state this year,” said Vikings Head Coach Alese Wright. “We have a really strong group of seniors and we are looking for the top players to push our varsity team to the best it can be.”
3/29 3:30 pm American Fork @ Lone Peak
4/1 3:30 pm Corner Canyon @ Skyridge
4/12 5:00 pm Westlake @ Pleasant Grove
2022 Region 4 Preseason Rankings
Lone Peak (1)
Region 4 Players to Watch
Ruby Wilson (American Fork) , Rachel Taylor (American Fork), Jocelyn Webb (American Fork), Simone Parker (Corner Canyon), Maura Henry (Corner Canyon), Allison Reading (Corner Canyon), Maddie Potvin (Lone Peak), Julia Gilmore (Lone Peak), Lauren Siri (Lone Peak), Kenzie Sulz (Pleasant Grove), Katelyn Sperry (Pleasant Grove), Eliza Berg (Pleasant Grove), Haven Buechner (Skyridge), River Buechner (Skyridge), Kaeley Thompson (Skyridge), Paige Payne (Westlake), Halle Parry (Westlake), Makaylee Huntsman (Westlake).
2022 Utah Lacrosse Fandom Survey Results
Here are a couple of results from the survey. Thanks to all those who filled it out.
When asked who should be a guest on the podcast, we get the following responses. This is not an exhaustive list, just some I wanted to point out.
Lyle Thompson, Paul Rabil, Any PLL player. Look, I’ve had Adam Ghitelman and Kyle Hartzell on the show. Great interviews for sure. I try to keep the podcast tied to Utah somehow and outside of playing a game or two here, some guys just don’t have real strong ties to Utah, but alas, it’s what the people want, so I’ll do my best to get a PLL player on the show.
Bubba Fairman - I did a written piece with Bubba before there was the podcast, so check that out.
Mason Goodhand - Listen here. This was one of my favorite episodes so far. Tons of knowledge from Mase.
Past local legends. Yes, it’s on the agenda to get a few more of these.
Matt Schneck - Stay tuned!
Aaron Ika - Had the pleasure to talk to Coach Ika and Trae in one of the first episodes.
High School Players - Yes! Definitely will try to talk to a few current high school players this season.
Drew McMinn - Listen to the Utah Lacrosse Podcast I recorded with Coach McMinn. Subscribe to that one as well. We have some great guests lined up for that one too.
List of other podcast guests: Chris O’Donnell, Kenzie Christiansen, Brandon Horoba, Moriah Greenstein, Goose It Lacrosse, Nick Gradinger, Nick Merrell, Walker Bateman, Bob Imhoff, Mark Stout, Craig Morris, Niki Harding, PJ Martin, Melissa Nash, Joe Kerwin, Brian Barnhill, Danny Larkin, Garrett Michaeli, Collin Madsen and Fish Bartlett. You can listen to all of these on on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
I also asked what you would change about lacrosse in Utah if you could. Here are a few of my favorite responses:
3 referees. As an official, I think it would help a lot in making calls and who sees what. TH: I couldn’t agree more. We need more officials. See above! However, most of the responses to this question were related to officiating in Utah. So clearly there’s some correlation between the number of refs and the overall feeling towards them. There’s a lot to dissect here but I’m guessing if we were kinder to refs on the field, we’d have more of them. Just a hunch.
All high school boys games at 7 PM and girls at 5 PM. TH: This! Yes, I don’t care who plays first, but having doubleheaders makes a ton of sense to me. Seems like with a little bit of effort, this could happen.
Keep the three bracket playoff system. TH: There were a fair amount of people who said something similar. I personally loved that system because it let everyone be equal on Day 1. As they say, all good things come to an end.
More live-streamed high school games. More media exposure! TH: This is actually really easy to fix. The simple answer is that people need to show up to games and tune in when they are streamed. There’s a lot to unpack here, but the crux of it is, if I’m a news outlet or advertiser, and I’m looking at the attendance of the girls or boys championships last Spring, I’m saying, ‘Hum… the game with the most attention, the game that is crowning the state champion, isn’t even getting enough fans to fill the stadium.’ It’s certainly a ‘chicken and egg’ situation.
I then let responders leave any feedback, questions or comments. Here are a few of the responses:
What do YOU think needs to happen for lacrosse in Utah? TH: What needs to happen to grow? We need to get more players but that means we need more coaches and more officials. I spoke with a seasoned referee just last week who said the best officials are the ones who have played the game. It’s hard to grow if there are only so many games that can be played because there are only a certain amount of officials. What needs to happen to get better? At the youth level, more kids need to play more than 10-15 games a year. Is club the answer? It’s certainly a way to get more competitive games but it also only caters to 60-80 kids in each grade. How can we get more games/competitive situations/free play for the rest of the kids?
What do the next 5 years look like for high school lacrosse in Utah? TH: The programs with strong youth programs will rise/stay at the top. Also, if I’m feeling optimistic, I’m going to say that we’ll have the Southern Utah teams join the UHSAA. I’m hoping we have more teams in Region 2 (Cyprus, Granger, Hunter, Kearns, Taylorsville), or other teams like Summit Academy, Cottonwood, Murray, Hillcrest, etc. The reality is that starting those teams would take more coaches which can be an uphill battle that leads to the next point of feedback…
Coaching is still lagging in Utah. How can we speed up the knowledge transfer for coaches, especially high school coaches? For example, in football, you can go to the local high school coaches and ask them any question and they can break it down for you in extreme detail. Most high school football coaches have been around the game for 20, 30, 40+ years, or more. Lacrosse isn't anywhere close to that level yet here in Utah. How can we increase the coaching knowledge in Utah at a faster pace? TH: This is a great question. I will say that there are some really great, knowledgeable coaches in Utah. High school lacrosse in Utah has existed for less than 30 years. So part of the equation is that some of these things just take time. We are in a spot though where we do have second-generation lacrosse players which is a great spot to be in. People who played in the early days of Utah high school lacrosse have kids who are playing lacrosse in high school. It should be noted though that the early days of Utah high school lacrosse were not an example of high IQ lacrosse. Most teams relied on brute strength rather than brains. So, to answer the question, one of the best ways to get knowledge is to ask questions. If you’re a coach, have you asked other coaches for knowledge? Have you asked a college coach for knowledge? A GREAT way to get knowledge is to attend a college practice. Watch the drills then ask the coaches why they are running them. At the end of the day, the coaches have to want to learn more, which I don’t think happens as much as we’d like. I’d venture to say less than 50% of high school coaches watched a lacrosse game this past weekend.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!
That’s it for this week, stay safe out there and see you on the sidelines!
— Tim Haslam (Intro/Mens/Boys/2022 Survey Results), Kenzie Christiansen (Womens/Girls) & Brad Lavoie (Armchair Lacrosse Coach)
In the cases where players from certain teams aren’t listed, the coach didn’t submit players for consideration or I couldn’t find a reliable roster.