Lacrosse programs join athletic arsenal at Brook Hill

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Students attending the Brook Hill School will soon have a new athletic program to participate in, as Brook Hill Athletic Director Wally Dawkins announced the school’s formation of a men’s and women’s lacrosse program.

The announcement about the new Guard and Lady Guard lacrosse programs was made during a press conference event Thursday, Feb. 9, inside the Founder’s Suite of the Brook Hill Upper School’s Kyle Lake Athletic Center.

“This is an exciting day for Brook Hill student athletes,” said Dawkins, at the press conference. “I’m very excited to announce we are starting men’s and women’s lacrosse programs.”

Dawkins shed some light during his address to the local media at the press conference regarding the school’s choice to add the new athletic program, saying the school has been planning to add lacrosse throughout the past two years, as well as his responsibility as an athletic director when adding new programs.

“As the athletic director at Brook Hill,” said Dawkins, “I take a real responsibility [to make sure] whenever any of our programs are involved, that they are funded, staffed, facilitated, and supported. We have a saying here: ‘Every sport we play is the most important sport we play. I take all of our programs very seriously. Whenever you start a new program, you can’t just start it; we’ve been planning this for two years. We’ve got a plan and a vision.”

According to Dawkins, the sport of lacrosse is the oldest team sport in North America, with records of a game similar to lacrosse dating back to the 12th century, as well as records from Declaration of Independence signer James Smith in the 1700s. Smith’s records indicate a sport where players had a long stick with a circular net on the top, allowing them to pass a small ball.

“Lacrosse has been in existence in North America for a long time,” said Dawkins. “Lacrosse is also the fastest-growing sport in the country, with over 400,000 student athletes across the nation. It’s also called ‘the sport of the future.’”

Brook Hill will now join the other 80 schools across the state of Texas to offer a lacrosse program.

“Most of the time,” said Dawkins, “people associate lacrosse with prep schools on the east coast. However, for the past 15 to 20 years, lacrosse has spread to the midwest, southeast, California, and now Texas. We’re excited to be one of the first schools in the East Texas area to have a school-sponsored lacrosse program.”

Dawkins announced a timeline of events for the new Guard and Lady Guard lacrosse programs, including beginning practices on the middle school level and when he predicts the teams will be able to take on opponents on the varsity level.

“Next week, our middle school boys and girls will start practicing lacrosse,” said Dawkins. “This year will be a training and practice year. Next year, we’ll move lacrosse up into the high school. We hope to be able to compete on a sub-varsity level by the end of next spring. By the spring of 2019, we hope to compete on the varsity level statewide.”

Along with Dawkins at the press conference were Brook Hill students Zailyn Allen-Powell, a newcomer to the sport, and Zach Reed, a club lacrosse player. Both were dressed in the new Brook Hill Guard and Lady Guard lacrosse uniforms and carried lacrosse playing equipment.

Dawkins also recognized two men charged with the task of helping students learn the game of lacrosse in an effort to begin the program at Brook Hill, including head coach and current Brook Hill Director of Finance and Operations Tony Welty, as well as parent Jeff Schwab.

“Introducing a new sport at a school is a difficult thing to do because you have sports that are already in existence,” said Welty. “The great thing about lacrosse is that it’s very dynamic; it encompasses the best parts of a number of different sports into one sport… Lacrosse is a sport that is growing exponentially in East Texas, and so we are glad to be able to participate with that growth.”

According to Welty, the current plan is to teach the basics of lacrosse to younger students and build a successful program with the first year as its foundation.

“We’re going to teach the basics of the sport,” said Welty. “We’re going to teach kids how to pass, catch, and shoot. Other than that, we’re going to teach the proper techniques so they can learn the sport and learn to become players over time. What we do in year one is important to what we hope to be doing in year 10. We’re both committed to make sure we are doing things the right way and make sure there is a structure. My motto as a coach has always been to work hard, be creative, and have fun. Brook Hill is blessed with students with a great work ethic.”

For more information about the Brook Hill Guard and Lady Guard lacrosse programs, contact Dawkins at wdawkins@brookhill.org, Welty at twelty@brookhill.org, or call (903) 894-5000.

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