In just its second year, Fuquay-Varina Lacrosse has exploded both in size and enthusiasm for the sport.
Coach Brad Wheeler admits he started the sporting group a little selfishly; he wanted his kids to play lacrosse close to home. But he had no idea the group would expand exponentially by its second spring.
“It keeps us busy,” Wheeler said of FVLAX.
Wheeler played lacrosse when he was in college and coached when his family lived in Texas. After moving to Fuquay-Varina in 2000, he began coaching for a travel team in Apex. But he still wanted to bring lacrosse to Fuquay.
Last year, Wheeler started with a group of third and fourth graders during the spring – the rec season for lacrosse. This year, those players graduated to a fifth and sixth grade level and Wheeler kept the original younger bracket as well.
Wheeler said the startup wasn’t too difficult. He got great support from the town, specifically Recreation Facilities Coordinator Caleb Mangum in securing the field at Action Park for practices and games.
The Apex Sports Authority also was a great resource. Many of the coaches Wheeler worked with in Apex now have their own local franchises. And he has gotten a lot of support at home as well.
“I cannot tell you how much support and work my wife, KC, puts into this to make myself and the program look so good,” Wheeler said.
The expansion is a big change for the group and Wheeler, who started out with just 22 players last year and now has 73.
That surge in player came in part because of the big kids wanting in on the action.
FVLAX adopted Fuquay-Varina High School’s lacrosse players as a club team. Although it looks hopeful in the future, the high school doesn’t have an organized team of players on campus.
The booster club at the high school has gotten excited about the new sport and has shown a lot of support to FVLAX.
Dick’s Sporting Goods also has gotten involved. The sporting goods store, which just opened up a new location in Holly Springs last week, signed on to be a sponsor to help the team grow.
Surprisingly, Wheeler didn’t have to do much advertising for the group. Lacrosse parents from the area have been eager to get their kids started in a program close to home.
“It’s all word of mouth,” he said. “It’s sort of grassroots. That’s for sure.”
Each practice, the Action Park field is divided into thirds for the three age groups and players work on mastering fundamentals and learn new plays of the game. Wheeler said it’s great because the high schoolers like showing off for the younger players, but many times they are humbled when a third grader makes an amazing play.
“It’s a family,” Wheeler said. “It’s a club.”
Although FVLAX plays much more established programs, the passion for the game and competitive edge is visible.
“That is all we can ask for as parents, coaches and fans of the game,” Wheeler said.
And still, the teams are supportive of one another because they all have a common love of the game.
“Lacrosse is a unique sport that has an almost family atmosphere for everyone that watches, plays or participates,” Wheeler said. “There is a natural comradery for all the players, fans and family of the game. No matter what happens on the field, after the game the high fives and the appreciation for great plays, great players and hard work extends far beyond any individual game or team.
“We are one big happy family growing the game.”
Find out more about FVLAX on Facebook at the team’s page (search Goblin Lacrosse) or friend FvLax Goblins.
Contact Kelly Griffith at email@example.com or 919-552-5675.
- Matt Madonia (So) 3 goals
- Johnny Tapia (Jr) 1 goal, 1 Assist 8 Faceoffs
- Darius Gist (Jr) 1 goal
- Chris Elms (So) 1 goal
- Chris Diblasi (Jr) 15 Saves