Grow the Game®

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Guest Post: Growing the game at Grand Blanc HS

Editors note: In our ongoing effort to highlight the growth of the game, we will be periodically asking influential players and coaches from around the nation to contribute to the site.  Today’s guest post comes from Trenton Gafner, Head Coach of Grand Blanc High School in Michigan. In his own words, Coach Gafner gives his two cents on what it’s like to take a new program to the next level. Enjoy.

Lacrosse in the Midwest

Hello Lax Nation, this is Coach Gafner here and contacted me about writing a post about my season this year. This will be my first year coach Varsity lacrosse at Grand Blanc, in Michigan. It’s the eighth biggest school according to enrollment in the state, the last time I checked but lacrosse has only been around here about 6-8 years. My team has never had a winning season and last year the varsity had a record of 4-12 and the JV’s were 7-9-1. Despite this, we are getting better.

I want people across the country to get a Midwestern perspective of a new team in an up and coming area that is making strides to improve. We do have some good lacrosse teams in Michigan, like Brother Rive and University of Detroit Jesuit, but, most teams aren’t at that level of competition or commitment yet.  I want to change that.

Last year Grand Blanc had a total of 34 kids between the Varsity and JV. That made playing games very tough when the innevitable injury or two takes down a few players. After the season the Varsity coach stepped down, and I was named the new head coach. Since then I have done my best at recruiting new players and have convinced many more students to play lacrosse this year. Amazingly, we plan on having about 60 kids on the team and are even expecting to have to make cuts due to the large turnout. That is a huge jump for us.

The Bobcats prepare for action in 2008Of the expected 60 kids that are expected to make the team, only 15 have played lacrosse for more than two years. It  presents a big challenge for coaches when you have to teach the basics of the game at the high school level but we are going to do our best to improve their skills as fast as possible. I’m very confident in the team’s potential this year and am setting high goals for the season. I expect that this is going to be the first winning season in Grand Blanc Boys Lacrosse history.

What’s different this year?
The thing that has changed the most is the boy’s passion for lacrosse. They seem to care more and tell me how they have been practicing on their own time to get ready for the season. That passion wasn’t there last year. This means a lot to me because I can coach any level of player as long as they are willing to work on their game.  Some kids just want to show up. Lets face it; newer programs have kids that want to play just because they think it looks cool and lack the commitment that comes with being on a team. Grand Blanc don’t have that this year. We have players that want to play and win.

I hope you can relate to the struggles of an up and coming High School program or at least get a different view on the game. Every program has to start somewhere and last year we set a good foundation for our program. That said, I’m very aware that success doesn’t happen over night. It was like a parent said during last year’s state title game, “there is a reason that these teams are here in the state title game; the offseason”. That is something we will continue to work on at Grand Blanc and I hope that I impressed upon the returning players about the importance of dedication and improving their game.

We will see soon if it pays off.

– Coach Gafner