Welcome to Introduction to the Game on MLL Press Box, a first-person narrative by MLL players explaining how and why they started playing lacrosse. Everybody who plays the game has to start somewhere, and these are the stories of how the best players in the world picked up the sport.
We sat down with Drew Snider from the Denver Outlaws to discuss what drew him to the sport of lacrosse while growing up in Seattle, Washington. While not considered a major hotbed of talent, Snider has invigorated the lacrosse scene in the Pacific Northwest through his youth program, CitySideLax, and by coaching at his alma mater, O'Dea High School.
My dad played at the University of Virginia. That’s really how I was around the sport. I knew of it because of his games.
He was very influential on me, as well as Trip Goodall, who played at Franklin and Marshall College and was a high school coach at Bainbridge Island – a powerhouse lacrosse team in Washington.
We used to take the ferry over there. I spent a lot of time over there growing up.
I can remember I had soccer balls, basketballs, lacrosse balls, everything growing up.
I started playing lacrosse in sixth grade for an actual team. My dad basically started a lacrosse team in the community we lived in, and by eighth grade I had already won a championship, which was pretty cool.
I played other sports, so I was pretty connected at school.
When we started a lacrosse team in the sixth grade, my whole class basically played. I went to a school called St. Anne's and my whole sixth grade class played. We had a couple of seventh and eighth graders join the team. We even had some fifth graders and one fourth grader, who actually ended up playing at Cornell.
It was kind of a blend of people to start and sure enough, it started to grow.
We would have to travel at least 30 minutes to play. There were some local teams, but we would play the same teams over and over. We got to know them. Rivalries were created through that, which was fun because it got competitive.
Everyone started getting good at the same time. People started branching off to different programs so they could grow. We’re still doing that to this day – growing and splitting, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
Seattle is a pretty populated city now. There were city teams but there's Lake Washington, and we had to drive across the bridge to play on the east side of Seattle, rather than staying on the city side.
Honestly, I thought I was better at basketball – well, I was really good at basketball up until my freshman year of high school. I played basketball on very competitive teams. One of my teammates, Spencer Hawes, is playing in the NBA right now for the Charlotte Hornets. I thought that was going to be my main sport and then lacrosse kind of unfolded.
I started playing lacrosse more and focusing on lacrosse starting my sophomore year.
I really think there was a benefit to me playing basketball. Lacrosse is a lot like basketball, the pick and roll game, rotations and stuff. In some sense, I was practicing lacrosse.
As a whole, the depth that some of these high school teams in Washington have now is remarkable.
The difference between when I played high school and now is just the lacrosse IQ that they have now. The terminology with players like myself playing in college and then coming back and relaying the terms from the East Coast that you don’t necessarily hear on the West Coast really helps them become more of a student of the game.
It really helps the transition of when they do make that jump from high school to college, usually back east. They’re somewhat familiar with the terminology that’s being used back there.
The one thing that we’re taking on, and something that we are focusing on – I say "we" as in CitySideLax, which is a youth organization I started that does offseason coaching, me and Chris O'Dougherty. One of our main focuses going forward is getting the box game going up here.
We’re so close to Canada. We have a lot of Canadians available coaching-wise for us to pick their brain and have them coach some of our players in the United States. We’re friends with them. I think that's going to help going forward. We are making gains as a state. We're starting to send kids to college and we're growing in numbers.
The state of Washington lacrosse is very healthy right now and it’s only going to get better.
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