CLOVER — Though Clover High School girls lacrosse coach Danielle John has a soccer background, she is excited about the opportunity to coach the Lady Blue Eagles’ first lacrosse team.
John, who played college soccer in New York, is fascinated by the pace and skill level lacrosse demands.
“High school lacrosse is a growing sport,” said John while taking a break from an intense practice session last week. “It will become a popular sport in the South in the years to come.”
While the CHS girls are playing a jayvee schedule this season, John hopes to elevate the program to varsity status next year. “We’ve incorporated juniors into our first-year program,” she noted.
The CHS lacrosse program draws from grades seven to 11 and the response has been genuine, John stresses. A recent scrimmage with Nation Ford raised more than a few eyebrows across the county when the Lady Blue Eagles came roaring from behind.
Trailing 5-1, the Clover girls didn’t play like a first-year team, rallying to tie the score. “I don’t think Nation Ford had a shot on goal in the second half,” said John. “It was an amazing performance.
“Our kids are picking up the game.”
While John enjoyed playing soccer and appreciates the sport, she said lacrosse is appealing to the fans.
“Lacrosse has a faster pace and there’s more of an offensive flow to the game,” she explained. “You can expect to have some 12-9 games. Lacrosse is a more technical game than soccer with the use of the stick.”
John said proper use of the lacrosse stick is vital to player development.
“Our players need to learn to use the stick with both hands,” she said. “One hand should not be a weakness.”
Junior lacrosse participants Lily Park and Holly Parker have contributed to the program in the preseason. Park, who played lacrosse in Florida before moving to Clover, is learning what it takes to be more competitive.
“It is a hard sport,” she noted. “You have to play smart.”
Park alluded to the Nation Ford comeback.
“We had a great comeback to finish in a tie,” Park said of the program-building performance. “We showed what we can do.”
Parker, a transfer from Rock Hill High School, is receiving a double-dose as a new student at Clover High School playing a new sport.
“I like attending Clover High and love playing lacrosse,” she said. “It’s a learning experience. The first time I used the lacrosse stick, the ball fell out. Lacrosse is a great sport. You have to want it.”
Parker said the comeback tie with Nation Ford was a confidence-builder for the Lady Blue Eagles.
Rachel Capps is a sophomore playing lacrosse for the first time and has found the sport to her liking. “It’s awesome!” she blurted out during a chilly afternoon practice. “We’re having fun and learning the game.
“Once you learn the basics of the game, you know you can do it.”
Concluded Capps, “We are improving as a team and there’s no letup.”
Kendra Hickman is a seventh-grade middle school student making an impact as a second-year lacrosse participant.
“It’s exciting,” she said. “Playing lacrosse last year helped me adjust this year. The first-year players are learning more about the sport.”
Said Hickman, “I’m not a Clover High student but I enjoy being part of the team.”
John looks for lacrosse to continue to grow, locally and beyond. “We look to have 10 to 15 more players next season,” she said. “It is an exciting sport and the fans get into it.”
John said many of the team members are playing club lacrosse.
“I’ve been impressed with the skill level of the players,” she remarked.
The CHS girls are scheduled to play at Byrnes March 14, followed by a trip to Fort Mill March 18. They return home for games against Nation Ford March 25 and Northwestern March 27.