VSLiberty Jones, a sophomore from Olumbus North, started playing for the men’s lacrosse team when there was no girls’ team.
Jones decided it was time to take the plunge in the hopes of starting a girl squad.
After a year of spreading the word to her peers, Jones finally accomplished her mission to organize the very first women’s lacrosse team in North.
“We had tried several attempts to start, but there were never enough girls or no coach,” Jones said. “So last year I found a coach and some players. We started to practice and started to spread the word. “
Jones said it took three to five months to finally get a girl group together and the group started practicing together last summer.
Then came a trainer, and Jones’ mother knew the right person to contact – Maddisyn Weisman. As it turned out, Jones’ mother and Weisman’s aunt knew each other and knew of Weisman’s lacrosse background.
Weisman was a former lacrosse player and played in her senior high school grades in South Carolina. Despite his background in lacrosse, this is the first time Weisman has been a team head coach.
Weisman said she first learned to coach as much as the team first learned to play lacrosse. Other than Jones and a few other girls, the team has little to no lacrosse experience.
Although lacrosse is not the most popular sport played in the country, it is emerging as one of the fastest growing sports over the past 20 years, particularly at the college level.
According to a study conducted by the NCAA in 2018, no sport has experienced greater growth than men’s and women’s lacrosse. The number of women’s lacrosse teams nearly doubled between 2003 and 2018, from 97% from 256 to 505, while men’s lacrosse saw a 61% increase over the 15-year period, fielding 380 teams in ‘by 2018.
“I’m learning coaching, but they’re learning sports,” Weisman said. “It’s amazing, and it’s really an amazing learning process, especially with the success we’ve had this season so far.
There are 24 girls on the list, and they are recognized as a club team by the Indiana Girls Lacrosse Club. All players, managers and coaches have a US lacrosse membership number.
Since lacrosse is not an IHSAA sanctioned sport, there are not many lacrosse teams in the region. The team spent many hours on the road traveling to places like Fort Wayne or Evansville to play games.
The team are hoping to have home games, but for now the games are all on the road. Without a team bus, it also sacrifices a lot of time off the weekend schedule for parents as players cannot make it to games with an injury or concussion.
“I told them a lot of the first year trusted the process. We have to create the program, ”Weisman said. “We just have to trust him, and put a lot of trust in everything we do, which has been amazing. The parents were also very supportive. It’s just about trusting the process and taking what we can get at this point.
Players must provide their own equipment, but Columbus Lacrosse Association commissioner Andrew Jerman has provided beginner’s sticks. All equipment, including goggles, mouthpieces accompanying the poles must be up to date.
The team practice at PAAL Fields south of Columbus, but are looking to find a more permanent location to practice in the years to come.
“With the right equipment and the right fields, they could go this far,” Weisman said. “That would be nice. I’d love to see that for them. They worked so hard. What’s crazy is that they built this team. They put so much work into it. They deserve so much.
Jones said she first drew attention to the sport when she watched the MTV show “Teen Wolf”. She quickly researched and studied more about the sport and started playing on a travel team in sixth grade.
Jones said she really wanted to pursue lacrosse in college. She says she is currently in the recruitment process and due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she mainly posts videos and highlights online.
North is off to a 3-2 start this season, and Weisman is very optimistic about the team’s future.
“We have a group of stable women who will only lead the team for the next several years. We had such an amazing first season that I can’t even imagine what we’ll do next season, ”said Weisman. “It’s amazing. I can’t even imagine. Everything they’re doing now just gives me chills. At least half of them could go to college to play. They have so much potential.