EL DORADO HILLS — Pete Gough is an 8 year-old El Dorado Hills boy soaking up every ounce of lacrosse knowledge.
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One of 18 kids between ages 5-10, Gough is currently participating in the second annual El Dorado Hills CSD Lacrosse Camp at Promontory Community Park. The four-week camp that meets Tuesdays allows participants to learn the fundamentals of lacrosse through challenging drills and exercises.
Played with a small rubber ball and a long-handled stick called a crosse or lacrosse stick, the objective is to score by shooting the ball into an opponent’s goal, using the stick to catch, carry and pass the ball.
Skills needed for the sport and being taught at the camp are: cradling, ground balls, passing the ball and shooting the ball.
“I like throwing the ball, catching the ball, getting the ball off the ground, cradling,” Gough said.
Gough said this is his first year taking part in the camp but not the first time playing lacrosse. This past school year, he played lacrosse in PE at his elementary school. He feels it’s “real fun” when competing against other players.
Austin Dean, a 2012 Oak Ridge High graduate, runs the camp that’s increased in size from last year.
“Last year there was around 15,” Dean said. “It’s a pretty comprehensive overview of the beginning tools that you’ll need. We don’t do any introduction of positions.”
Another camper taking part is Jesse Santinn, 7, who said some of the drills are “stuff that I already know.”
Dean added, “It’s gone very well. They’ve learned at a steady rate.”
Dean’s assistants are former and current Trojan lacrosse players; Tanner Rosenbaum, Chad Augood and Austin Ramsey. Rosenbaum played on this year’s team and Augood and Ramsey played last season.
Dean points out that most of last summer’s students are now playing for the El Dorado Hills Youth Lacrosse Club. Matt Hewitt, one of the coaches for the club, said there were 375 kids — boys and girls — in grades third through eighth who played this spring. There were 23 teams with an average of 16 players per team.
The number of participants in lacrosse has continued to increase in the last decade at the high school level. According to California Interscholastic Federation’s Website, 2,240 California high school boys went out for lacrosse in 2003 and that’s risen dramatically to 5,323 in 2007, 8,288 in 2011 and 8,567 last year. The CIF approved the sport in 2000.
In 2003, there were 1,834 California high school girls who played lacrosse. That number increased to 3,154 in 2007, then 5,108 in 2011 and 5,432 last year.
The Sac-Joaquin Section’s Website states that nine schools, including Oak Ridge, fielded lacrosse teams this past season. Oak Ridge is the only El Dorado County high school that fields boys and girls lacrosse teams. The Trojans have fielded teams since 2008, according to Trojans athletic director and girls basketball coach Steve White.
El Dorado Hills resident Grant Napear, an afternoon sports radio talk show host and the Sacramento Kings’ TV play-by-play announcer, played lacrosse growing up in New York and received a scholarship to play the sport at Bowling Green State University in the late 1970s.
“(Lacrosse) provided me an opportunity to go to college,” Napear said.
Case Donahue, a 2011 Oak Ridge High graduate, received a scholarship to play lacrosse at Dominican University in San Rafael, the first-ever county lacrosse player to do so. He was followed by Elizabeth Shaefer who signed with USC.
Napear’s youngest son, Chase, played on the Oak Ridge High JV lacrosse team this spring. Chase, too, played in the El Dorado Hills Youth Lacrosse Club. Grant strongly feels lacrosse has become popular in the Sacramento area in recent years.
“I’m so excited how the sport has excelled in the high schools,” Napear said. “The sport has come a long way from six, seven years ago.”
Contact Mike Bush at 530-344-5079 or [email protected] Follow @MBushMtDemo on Twitter.