Discover more from Utah Lacrosse Report
Utah State Goes 4-0 in Minnesota, Interview w/ Niki Ballou (West), Q&A w/ Cole Terry (Bountiful)
Issue 81 - Logan/Utah State Lacrosse Throwback, Girls 4A Preseason Rankings and the Armchair Lacrosse Coach talks about Legends in the game.
Good morning lacrosse fans! As a reminder, the fine folks at Tribal West are offering 10% off your online order using the code TRIBAL2022 on tribalwest.com. You can order online and pick it up in-store!
One of my favorite things about this newsletter is the occasional old lacrosse photos that are sent my way. Clay Christofferson (the current Ridgeline boys coach and Cache Valley lacrosse pioneer) provided a few gems from the early days of lacrosse in Logan and Utah State.
Logan Jr Lacrosse 1975, Hillcrest Field. Coach Christofferson is #12 on the top row. The goalie is Jeff Allred, a photographer for the Deseret News. #11 is Jeff John the head pro at Logan River GC and #10 is Kirk Jenson business development manager for Logan City.
Logan High School versus Kent Denver (CO), 1979
Newspaper clip and Utah State 1976 schedule.
If you have old photos/stories, let me know!
Armchair Lacrosse Coach: Legends
Short and sweet from the chair this week instead of the soapbox I have been on as of late. College lacrosse is in full swing at all levels as winter looms across the country with most dawning the parka and the lucky few lathering up the screen. Often this time of year the college lacrosse coaches located above the Mason-Dixon line are most acutely reminded of the brief but ever-important weather disadvantage they have in the recruiting arms race faced by all in the profession. Just need to hang on for another month and not lose any of the prospects currently sitting on the fence as it will be sun’s out, gun’s BACK out soon enough. All of us were also reminded recently that no matter how frigid it gets in Central New York, it’s always 60 and sunny in the Dome.
Hopefully, many Utahns tuned in for last Sunday’s nationally televised tilt between the Bubba Fairman-led No. 1 ranked Terps and the new look Syracuse Orange. Prior to the game arguably the greatest lacrosse player to ever touch a stick had the most famous number in our game retired and hung from the rafters. Many ask will this be the end of #22 even being worn again by another ‘Cuse superstar? My guess is YES it will. Especially now that the man who made that number famous, Gary Gait, roams the sidelines as the newly minted skipper of the Orange Crush. As a player, Mr. Gait won 3 national championships between 1987-1990 along with his twin brother Paul and created the most infamous leaping shot in lacrosse history, THE AIR GAIT. The pressure to be the next “great 22” has just become too much for any young man to fulfill. Between 1991 and 2004 that number was worn by Charlie Lockwood and three brothers from West Carthage, New York leading to 4 National Championships, 16 First Team All American nods and over 1,000 points. That run of talent and production will never be reproduced in this new modern age (hopefully Connor Shellenberger does not read the ULR). (Editor’s Note: He probably doesn’t but if someone knows him, feel free to share the link.) Keep in mind the next player to wear the #22 after the Powell’s was Dan Hardy who won 2 championships, earned 3 All-America nods and had 136 career points from the midfield against the pole (ridiculously successful by any measure) and never seemed to be seen in the same light. A reminder to all those young 'uns who rock the #22, mind your elders and learn your history.
What you may have missed was the induction of Roy Simmons Jr. to the ‘Cuse Athletics/Carrier Dome ring of honor during halftime. Coach Simmons succeeded his father as Head Varsity Lacrosse coach at Syracuse in 1970 and held that position until his retirement in 1998 finishing with 6 national crowns (technically 7). He had a tremendous influence on most of the players listed above as well as on the game as a whole. In many ways he still does as the college game continues to speed back up, the words “run and gun” are frequently cited noting the style of play associated with teams who play fast and take chances. This was the style his teams played and were most likely responsible for the term's existence. It was the most fun lacrosse to watch! My VHS tapes of those Syracuse games played during the early 90’s basically disintegrated from the amount of play they got in my house. During the ceremony, the crowd in the Dome was treated to a pre-recorded video of Coach Simmons remarks regarding the honor. What struck me during this address was the reminder of the true intention of the style of play he preached. He reminded us all that it’s the imagination of the players on the field making plays that makes this game truly great and the only way this is possible is to give the players the keys to the Ferrari and let’em hammer the gas pedal. Or as he says “let the thoroughbreds run”. Players make plays and Coach Simmons knows this in his core. He was secure enough to put his ego aside, relinquish control to the horses and let them run free and it paid dividends. Of course, he certainly had the horses but I believe it was the coaching style and his willingness to truly pay tribute to the creator through freedom of play that had a lot to do with those very racehorses finding him.
Lastly, this is the Golden Age of televised lacrosse. Men’s, Women’s, Box, PLL, World Sixes, etc… in 1990 when the Gait Brothers were Seniors you got 3 games on the tube. That’s 3 total men’s games on Memorial Day weekend and if you booted it with the VCR (video cassette recorder) the likelihood of a replay in the wee hours of the night was unlikely. You either had the recording or you had to wait another year. This means you got a chance to see and record 4 teams total and the rest were long car rides to Piscataway, Nassau County and Byrd Stadium in the station wagon. This morning I counted the available D-I Men’s games available to everyone. Between ESPN, ESPN+, ACC Network and the BIG 10 channel, that count was well over 40 games that can be paused, rewound and watched again in an instant. If you are a lacrosse coach of any kind at any level this is huge! This is an invaluable tool you have beaming directly to your house from outer space. You need to encourage your players and parents to watch film. It is a huge part of how we all learn and improve. For most of these games, you get super high-quality video and for many, you have the full viewing experience as you are guided through the game by experienced experts like Quint Kessenich, Paul Carcaterra and Mark Dixon to name a few. Plus, now more than ever, your young players can watch intently as players from the same state they are from competing at the highest collegiate level from their living room. Guys like Bubba Fairman (Maryland), Beau Pederson (Princeton) and the “Baby Faced Assassin” Brandon Dodd (Air Force) are mainstays as starters on teams that are televised all the time. The list of Utah-born and bred players playing at the D-I level alone is 10+, all of which have been in games televised or webcast in 2022. At this moment, in a coffee shop armchair, I am writing this while watching a super high-quality webcast of your Westminster College Griffins of the NCAA D-II take on conference rival Colorado Mesa led by RMAC Freshman of the year Dylan Checketts (Herriman). So if you can’t make it to Ute Field to see your Utes on March 26th, grab some popcorn and watch the webcast in the comfort of your own home. What a time to be a young lacrosse fan. Don’t take it for granted!
Good luck with tryouts this week! - BL
What a week for the Utah State Aggies. On Sunday, the team headed to Minnesota for a four-game stretch that looked more like a baseball schedule than lacrosse. The Aggies handled it as best they could, walking away with four great wins. On Monday, No. 8 North Dakota State was the first victim as the Aggies easily walked away with an 11-4 win. On Tuesday, against No. 12 St. John’s, Utah State won 7-6. After a day off spent at the Mall of America, the Aggies beat No. 1 St. Thomas, 8-7 in OT, then finished the trip on Friday with a 12-6 win over No. 6 Minn.-Duluth. The bright spot for the Aggies was the equality in scoring, using two goalies and the Jeff Bruggeman/Daniel Ota FOGO tandem - a true team effort. Read the MCLA.us recap here.
It would be shocking to not see the Aggies at No. 1 in the MCLA D-II poll this week, but crazier things have happened in the MCLA ranks, including a 42-2 win by the College of Idaho over Southern Oregon on Sunday.
In other action, Utah headed Marquette and squeaked out a 12-11 victory on Saturday. The Utes were led by veteran attackmen: Hyde, Bradbury and McMahon who had two goals each. The Utes will play a rare Sunday contest next week against Jacksonville at 4 p.m. MT. The game will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network.
Westminster opened its season against Colorado Mesa in Grand Junction on Sunday with a 16-13 loss.
Upcoming Men’s Schedule
3/4 - Southern Utah @ Utah Valley, 7 pm
3/4 - Northern Arizona @ Utah State, 2 pm
3/5 - Montana State @ Utah State, 1 pm
3/6 - Utah @ Jacksonville, 4 pm
Pole Goal of the Week goes to Stony Brook pole Christian Lowd. Look at that form!
Saturday was an active day for women's lacrosse.
Utah Valley (WCLA D-II) scrimmaged Westminster (NCAA D-II) and the Griffins walked away with a strong win over the Wolverines with a final score of 15-7. The game got very competitive in the 3rd quarter. The Griffins started the quarter with 13 goals to the Wolverines 1. The quarter was filled with high intensity and teamwork, leaving the Wolverines with 6 points by the end of the game.
Utah State hosted Utah at the Stan Laub Indoor field house. The game was a constant battle between the two teams. Ending the battle, the Utes took home the win with a 20-17 final score.
“The team has definitely been meshing together well,” said Utah Assistant Coach Wesley Allen. They sure have. We are all excited to see where this season will take these two teams.
Upcoming Women’s Schedule
3/3 - Colorado @ Utah State, 3:30 pm, NERF Fields
3/4 - Fort Lewis @ Westminster, 4 pm, Dumke Field
3/4 - Colorado @ BYU, 4 pm, West Field
3/4 - Denver @ Utah, 7 pm, Crimson Field
3/4 - 3/5 - Utah Valley hosts Weber State, Wyoming, Denver, Colorado Mines
Boys High School
All of the regions have been previewed so be sure to check the archives for your region.
Friend of the newsletter Jeff Brzoska sent pics from the Princeton v. Maryland game which featured three Utah high school alums: Bubba Fairman (Brighton, Maryland) and the Pederson brothers (Beau, Andrew, Park City, Princeton). Pretty special!
Q&A w/ Bountiful Defenseman Cole Terry
TH: When/why did you start playing lacrosse?
CT: I started playing lacrosse in 3rd grade, and from the second I picked up a stick I loved it and I was hooked.
TH: What is your favorite part about lacrosse?
CT: My favorite part about playing lacrosse is being part of a team. Being part of a brotherhood that you know will have your back through everything.
TH: What is your stick of choice?
CT: My stick of choice is just a basic StringKing long stick with the pre-strung head.
TH: Besides your own home field, what is your favorite field in or out of Utah to play lacrosse on?
CT: The best field I have ever played on was in California. We played on what used to be a polo field.
TH: How/why did you pick your jersey number?
CT: I have always had the number 25, I grew up with it and it’s become almost a part of me.
TH: What are your post-high school plans?
CT: My plan after high school is to go on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Then come back and play lacrosse for Utah Valley University.
TH: Thanks Cole! Best of luck this season.
Coaches, if you have a player with an interesting story or would like to be featured on a Q&A, please shoot me a note!
Girls High School
4A South Preseason Rankings
Juan Diego enters the 2022 season as the favorite to take the 4A South region title. Nola Swales-Christensen will once again look to lead the Soaring Eagle in goals.
Waterford is starting this season with a new head coach, Caroline McKechnie. Coach McKechnie previously coached at Wasatch High School and is one of the founders of Park City Youth Lacrosse.
“A few former Park City Youth Lacrosse players attended Waterford and mentioned the school was looking for a new coach, and after a wonderful streak coaching in Park City, and Heber, it was a great opportunity to coach closer to home,” said McKechnie. “As the daughter of a private school teacher, schools like Waterford hold a special place in my heart. Combining my love for the game and joy of coaching, with an independent school- this opportunity checked a lot of boxes on the coaching goal list. As a coach, I bring a great deal to the table. Athletes I coach get more than just sports knowledge and skill development. I believe all athletes need to be well-rounded and dedicated to becoming better versions of themselves, allowing them to succeed as members of their current and future communities. I pride myself on my ability to coach, and teach young adults life lessons that they can use on and off the turf.”
Game to watch: April 8, Juan Diego @ Waterford
2022 4A South Preseason Rankings
Juan Diego (2)
4A South Players to Watch
Gracie Barthurst (Juan Diego), Rachel Strelow (Juan Diego), Nola Swales-Christensen (Juan Diego), Charlie Lacobelli (Waterford), Eena Yu (Waterford), Madeline Morris (Waterford), Madden Clark (Judge), Camille Webber (Judge), Emilla Lewis (Judge).
4A North Preseason Rankings
“I feel very optimistic about this upcoming season,” said Bear River Head Coach Jemery Webb. “We are returning a major part of our varsity lineup and many of our backups put the time in this offseason and will push for some playing time this year. As far as who our biggest competitor is I would have to say any team that is on the field opposite of us. I have learned a long time ago to never overlook any player or team. We will give each and every team the respect they deserve.”
Game to watch: April 27, Bear River @ Sky View
2022 4A North Preseason Rankings
Bear River (6)
4A North Players to Watch
Sydney Wilkinson (Bear River), Marley Kierstead (Bear River), Bentley Lorimer (Bear River), Taryn Durham (Mountain Crest), Madi Henrie (Mountain Crest), Alicia Solano (Mountain Crest), Abby Hunt (Sky View), Kira Bowden (Sky View), Vivian Lamont (Sky View), Channing Karaghouli (Logan), Zsofi Ugray (Logan). Hallie Meier (Logan), Janessa Grover (Green Canyon) Lauren Harris (Green Canyon) Gracie Blake (Green Canyon), Ellie Goins (Ridgeline), MJ Topham (Ridgeline), Brooklyn Mcbride (Ridgeline).
Get to Know: West High School Head Coach Niki Ballou
Coach Niki Ballou joined the West High School team this spring season. When asking the new head coach what drew her into coaching at West, Ballou said “…because of the heart of the team. West strives to have a team with sisterhood, unity, team cheers, fun at all times, and a place that they get excited to go to. They want the fun culture of lacrosse, and that’s the only reason I coach - not for the wins but for the sisterhood.”
Ballou's goal for this season is to bring out the best in these athletes while also laughing as much as possible.
“They are timid at first but we went over a hard, hard dodging practice day and they got pumped up! They have a secret athleticism that they want to show but are too nervous to let out,” stated Ballou.
One challenge the team is facing is getting a season together as quickly as possible. Coach Ballou has built three programs before - Bingham, Jordan and Mountain Ridge. The Panthers only had one week to practice as a team before the moratorium began. The team is getting anxious to get back on the field together.
“This team and administration are very receptive to kindness and acceptance. I don’t think I’ll have “challenges” because it seems that this school really is wanting to focus on individual players, their academics, their home life situations, etc, etc. I’ve never seen an administration care so much about their kids, and that’s something that I’ve always wanted. Of course each school I’ve worked at cares about their students, but West seems to be much more involved,” said Ballou.
Ballou Graduated from Bingham High School in 2011 and was one of the captains that helped lead them to second place in the state of Utah. Ballou continued her lacrosse career at Utah Valley University. When playing for Utah Valley, Niki coached the American Fork Youth, Pleasant Grove youth, and Bingham Youth. While attending Utah Valley Niki was unfortunately injured with an ACL tear that took her out of the game. Ballou had some time off of playing until she found Utah Olympians (18+ Women's Lacrosse League in Utah) where she has been able to travel throughout the West to participate in elite-level lacrosse tournaments.
“I can confidently say that I’ve learned more about lacrosse while playing as an adult than I ever had playing as a kid/collegiate athlete,” said Ballou.
Niki has three beautiful babies, 2 girls and 1 boy. After Niki had her first baby girl, she started coaching as a varsity assistant to Jessica Hercules at Bingham. The following year after being at Bingham, Niki was offered the assistant coaching position at Jordan under former Head Coach Chad Bode with the expectation to take over the years after.
In her first official year as head coach at Jordan, she trained her team to secure a D-II state championship for Jordan High School.
Starting this spring, Niki was going to take a break from coaching lacrosse, but West just presented itself and there was no way she could say no to such an amazing opportunity to help grow a strong and prideful team.
“I’m back in my head coaching swag and I’m ready to get cray! The goal for ending the season is to have all the girls at a 3.0 GPA average and to be able to say they learned something new every day. To feel empowered by themselves and their teammates,” said Ballou.
X10 Lacrosse - X10 Lacrosse once again will set up shop in Mount Pleasant this summer.
Discount Code is offered up until March 31st. Use UTAH50 when registering.
Davis & Weber County Try Lax
Girls in Davis & Weber Counties ages Kindergarten - 8th grade are invited to a Try Lax event this Saturday, March 5 from 3-5 pm at the Legacy Event Center. More information and a sign-up sheet can be found here.
That’s it for this week, stay safe out there and see you on the sidelines!
— Tim Haslam (Intro/Mens/Boys), Kenzie Christiansen (Womens/Girls) & Brad Lavoie (Armchair Lacrosse Coach)