Good Sports: After Fresno State, high school lacrosse finding place in the Valley

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- For San Joaquin Memorial's first-year coach Ellie Galindo, picking teams is a lot easier than teaching her girls how to pick up something new.

"Any time someone picks up a lacrosse stick it's going to be awkward. It was awkward when I picked up a lacrosse stick. (For) every one of these girls it's something foreign," Galindo says.

Galindo, a former lacrosse player at Fresno State, is one of a handful of local coaches trying to make that international sport familiar to the Central Valley.

"We might not be a CIF sport here, but we're going to practice like we're one, and we're going to practice like if you guys want to go to Division I, II, III or club."

The Panthers are one of nine local teams. Memorial and Sanger are the latest two to join the seven Fresno Unified schools that have been playing since Fresno State first started a team back in 2008.

"It was a little bit of a battle because some of the old school ADs (athletic directors) didn't want it. It was interfering with softball, track and everything else," says Hoover athletic director Tim Carey.

A struggle at first - it's become a popular way for two-sport athletes to stay fit. Next year, Hoover's Tristan Henson plans on playing soccer at Fresno City.

"It's kind of connected to soccer - like in the defense, you're on a man, and you're marking up," says Hoover senior lacrosse player Tristan Henson.

Or at Memorial - it's a chance to try something new.

"Lacrosse started from a hatred for track. Running around the track and seeing the lacrosse girls out there I was like, 'That looks like so much more fun," says Memorial senior lacrosse player Marianne Gleason.

Gleason recently signed up to play lacrosse at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa. While locals are heading off to play in college, Hoover's Tim Carey thinks the number could be higher if there were more competition here in the Valley.

"I'd love Clovis Unified to jump on board. I've said that many times before."

As of today, there are no plans to expand. But for these girls, it hardly matters.

"It's still really good competition. Like Edison, Bullard and Fresno High, they're very good teams, and it's fun to go against them."
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