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Midvale Journal

Making history: Hillcrest High will debut its girls lacrosse team this season

Mar 01, 2024 01:03PM ● By Julie Slama

Tucker Gamble will coach the inaugural season of Hillcrest High girls lacrosse. (Photo courtesy of Jordan Valley School website)

Sanctioned girls’ high school lacrosse was supposed to begin in March 2020, but was delayed with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While many other schools began the following year, Hillcrest High is rolling out its inaugural season this year.

It came after some girls interested in the sport played on nearby teams and one, in particular, freshman Claire McMann, petitioned the school’s athletic director.

“She was just begging the athletic director (Scott Carrell) to make the team, so he said, ‘If you want to put forth the effort in recruiting and make sure we have a team, I will put in the money to make sure we have one,’” said first-year coach Tucker Gamble. “She’s the reason we have a team and as many girls here as we do.”

McMann, who also runs cross country and track for the Huskies, is one of the three players with experience.

“She helped during open gyms run and teaches the new girls,” Gamble said. “And now, during moratorium before tryouts, Claire has been getting them to play at a local field on their own. If it’s snowing, they’ll go to a church and practice catching there.”

True to his word, Carrell got the team balls, goals, jerseys. a bunch of sticks, eye protection and goalie gear. 

The team will play 12 on the field at a time—four on defense (including the goalkeeper), four midfielders or middies, and four on offense or attackers. They’ll face other teams on the school’s football field, with a slightly larger painted field.

“In our open gyms, we’ve been teaching the sport and we’ve had 21 players, mostly freshmen and sophomores, consistently coming. We should have a good-sized team,” Gamble said prior to the team selection on Feb. 27, which is one week before the first game against Uintah High. There is no JV squad this year.

“I set up preseason games against some JV games (against Bountiful and Skyridge) so that the team will get some experience. I just don’t want them to be blindsided going into our region season, not having enough experience to know how the games played. We also have games against other new teams (Uintah and Weber),” he said. “In region, we play each team twice. Our region has some teams with newer programs and then, we are in the region that includes the smaller schools in 2A and 3A in it.”

Even with little lacrosse experience, Gamble is optimistic.

“I have pretty high hopes for my team,” he said. “We have a lot of girls from different sports, and those from the soccer team and basketball learned the defense movements are the same—same type of footwork, same type of everything. You can just do a few different things with the stick. They’ve picked that up and then, they’ve picked up the cradling, passing, catching, shooting as well. Then, we transitioned into game scenarios and they’ve been doing well there. I’m hopeful that we do well.”

Gamble also said the team has been fortunate to have their goalie, sophomore Savvy Watson, a newcomer to the sport.

“She’s a natural. I’ve really impressed. I had our boys’ team goalie come to give her a few tips. He said that he didn’t have much for her and he’s been playing for a while,” he said.

Gamble started playing lacrosse in fourth grade.

“It was just something that all the kids in my area did growing up, so I started to play, and I just developed a love for it. I’ve played close to 17 years now and supported the girls’ lacrosse team at my high school, Viewmont. I went to play in college (Utah State University), but it was a club sport, and I couldn’t afford the fees,” he said, adding that he buckled down in his studies.

Since then, Gamble earned his doctorate at Rocky Mountain University in physical therapy and works with students at nearby Jordan Valley School.

“I’ve been around lacrosse my whole life. It’s a fun game. It teaches a lot of discipline. There’s a lot of running so it’s a fast-moving game with high scoring. There aren’t many dull moments where you’re sitting and waiting for plays,” he said about the sport that will return to the summer Olympics in 2028. “The fun thing about its history is knowing that women’s lacrosse actually got to be an organized sanctioned sport in America before men’s lacrosse, which is pretty unique for sports, but it’s actually been a part of our history since the Native Americans back in the day.” λ