In the ‘clear’

Boys lacrosse team rebuilds itself after facing obstacles
Juniors Devin Speaks and Keygan Southern fight for the ball with Bloomington North High School players during their game on Monday, May 6. SHS lost the game 14-0.
Juniors Devin Speaks and Keygan Southern fight for the ball with Bloomington North High School players during their game on Monday, May 6. SHS lost the game 14-0.
Morgan Harmon

Senior Jackson Lyle remembers the crushing disappointment at his birthday dinner last June after he learned that there wouldn’t be a boys lacrosse team at SHS during his final year of high school.

However, despite the grim outlook, Lyle and other members of the team took it upon themselves to pick up the pieces of the program and begin the rebuilding process.

“It was always ‘We’re going to have a team. We’re going to find a way,’” Lyle said.

The first of the many challenges that the team faced was finding a coach.

After the 2023 season, former coach Tyler Schank left. Schank is a teacher at Decatur Central High School, which made it difficult for him to schedule practices and balance times between his two jobs, according to Lyle.

Knowing that finding a coach would be the starting point of their rebuilding effort, Lyle and other captains approached first-year teacher Justin Magbanua at the beginning of the school year to see if he would be interested in filling that position.

“We took it upon ourselves to go find (Magbanua) to make sure that the guys got a chance to play,” Lyle said.

A former SHS lacrosse player himself, Magbanua’s answer was “absolutely.”

During this same time, the boys also talked with girls lacrosse coach Rachel Frantz because they knew she had experience building a lacrosse team from the ground up.

Together, Magbanua and Frantz make up the coaching staff. Magbanua runs practices and handles the hands-on side of coaching while Frantz takes care of the administrative tasks like scheduling games.

While Frantz was used to these tasks for the girls team, doing them for the boys team led to a “big learning curve” because the logistics were so different between the two sports.

“I was used to doing things one way,” Frantz said, “and I’ve had to push that out of my mind and do it a completely different way.”

Now with a coach, the next thing that the team needed was to recruit more players.

Because the past few years of boys lacrosse were unorganized, according to Lyle, there weren’t many players that wanted to return. At the beginning of the year, there weren’t even enough players to fill a roster.

But just like with finding a coach, the boys took matters into their own hands.

Senior Addison Meredith, who also plays football, got several of his teammates to join lacrosse, and Lyle also got in on recruiting new players.

“I’ve been encouraging other people who want to play lacrosse,” Meredith said. “Definitely do it.”

With recruiting players, one of the biggest obstacles is the high upfront cost associated with starting lacrosse, according to Frantz, who says that purchasing the combination of equipment necessary for boys lacrosse, even used, costs at least $300.

“We weren’t going to get enough players if we had that upfront cost,” Frantz said.

Thus, the next step was getting gear for the team to use.

Through her various connections in the lacrosse world, Frantz was able to get donations from STX, a prominent lacrosse brand, as well as Relax Collections, a company that collects and redistributes lacrosse gear for free to help the sport grow.

Another donation came after the SHS and UIndy mens lacrosse teams completed a clinic together when the UIndy coaching staff offered to give some of their extra equipment to the SHS team.

According to Meredith, this extra equipment has helped get more players to join, and now, they have enough players for a full varsity team with a deep bench.

“All the donations are amazing because the past two years, we’ve all had to buy our own gear, and that’s very expensive for lacrosse,” Meredith said. “So it’s a huge help, and it helps new kids want to join the sport because it’s less scary (than) using your own money.”

With all the pieces in place, the team is finally up and running. Moving on from the goal to have a team, Magbanua is now working on developing his own coaching techniques as well as his team’s skills.

“Begging, borrowing and stealing drills from Coach Frantz and the internet and basically learning to become a better coach has been my goal,” Magbanua said.

The team feeds off Magbanua’s passion for the sport, and according to Lyle, they know that no matter what, he will continue to fight for them every step of the way.

“What he is doing for our program, and the energy he brings, and the tenacity and wanting to help everybody with the team is very important, and he strives for us not to just be good lacrosse players, but (also) good humans, so I really appreciate that,” Meredith said. “That’s a really good coach.”

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Lucy Hiller
Lucy Hiller, Sports Reporter
Howdy! My name is Lucy Hiller, and I’m a senior this year (whoop whoop), so I’m savoring every last second I get at SHS. For my third year on The Journal, I’m back as a Sports Writer. I spent last year as the Sports Editor, and while it was a truly incredible experience, I really missed getting to write and share peoples’ stories with the world. Outside of The Journal, I’m on the cross country, swimming and track teams at SHS, and I just got a job at Fleet Feet, so if you ever need running shoes, come find me. In my free time, I enjoy playing piano, reading and cooking (go check out @lucys.yums on Instagram). I also love spending time outdoors, especially on hikes with my family (and of course, Benny, my dog). One thing I’m really excited about this year is getting to help elementary students at Homecfort produce their own mini version of The Journal because it’s so rewarding to see their excitement when they finally hold the paper in their hands. I hope I haven’t distracted you from our content for too long already, but you should totally get back to reading all of the articles that has to offer.

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