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Sports: Start-up lacrosse team gives WHS a full roster

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

The Warriors are now batting a thousand. Or they will be when their girls lacrosse team takes the field next spring.

Waccamaw High School, with 800 students, now offers every sport sanctioned by the S.C. High School League, principal David Hammel said. It has 21 varsity and 13 junior varsity teams.

The Georgetown County Board of Education approved the school’s request for a lacrosse team this week. It will be co-ed this season, and a girls team will start in 2014.

“It’s taken a long, long time,” said Hal Ness, who has nurtured hopes for a Waccamaw High lacrosse team since retiring to a home just down the road in Heritage Plantation more than 15 years ago. He is a founder of the S.C. Lacrosse League and in 2005 became the first member of the S.C. Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

“We picked up Carolina Forest this year. That was a long time coming, too,” Ness said.

There are over 70 high school lacrosse teams in South Carolina. That’s up from one in 1999.

The Warriors will play five or six matches this season with Carolina Forest, Socastee and Charleston County schools.

Over the last two years, “my staff and I have been besieged by requests,” Hammel said.

The tipping point was reached in November when 10 students came to him and asked that the school add lacrosse. “They had mostly played before and moved here from other areas,” Hammel said.

About 40 boys signed up to play this spring along with 15 to 20 girls. They were told they would have to pay for their own equipment, and the school’s athletic booster club agreed to help cover some of the team’s costs.

Hammel found a pair of volunteer coaches in Mark Frechette and Michael Russo, two district staff members who played lacrosse in college. Both moved here from Upstate New York.

That’s the cradle of lacrosse, a sport played for centuries by Native Americans. As such is seems a natural fit for Wacccamaw High and its Warrior mascot.

Games are played on a 110-by-60-yard field. The goals are 6 square feet and sit 80 yards apart. Each team has 10 players: a goalie, three defenders, three midfielders and three attackers. Each position has a version of the distinctive stick, with is triangular net at the end.

About half the members of the Waccamaw team already have their own sticks, Hammel said.

When promoting the sport around the state the biggest objection was a lack of space, Ness said.

The Waccamaw team will play on the fields that opened last year at Stables Park in Litchfield. “The facility will be a big boost to the future,” Ness said. That’s because the popularity of the varsity team is likely to prompt the development of recreation teams, which will bring younger kids to the sport.

Logan Trotter was among those at a team meeting this week. Even though he’s a senior he said he wanted to try a new sport.

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