“I got to have a stick in my hand long before some of the other kids,” said Key West High School senior lacrosse player Dean Wallen. He started playing on the youth league when it was created in 2012.

On Monday, the high school boys lacrosse team won 19-0 in the district semifinals, and move on to play at Coral Shores on Thursday, April 19 for the district championship. “I was 12 years old when I started and it helped me get a head start on my skills than students who join in high school.”

Wallen’s freshman year was the inaugural season for the boys and girls lacrosse teams at Key West High School. He said the success of the team this year is in part to the lessons many of the students learned in the youth league.

Coach Dave drives to Key West from Marathon to practice lacrosse with Elena, Chloe and Summer. He hopes to start a Marathon league next season.

Although the high school season is winding down, the youth teams are still on the field through May 5. With seven boys and six girls teams this year, Trish Gibson was looking to get her daughter Taylor, 10, involved in a team sport. “Taylor is very active and this really helps her get some of her energy out,” said Gibson. “She’s loved every minute of it. There is so much camaraderie on the field.”

Gibson also noted a plus: the cooler weather of the spring sport.

It’s not just the Key West kids in on the deal either. Coach and Vice President of the Key West League David Migut, Marathon’s City Attorney, brings his daughter, Chloe, and a couple of her friends down for the practices and games. “It’s like eight hours in the car a week traveling to Key West, but she loves it,” he said.

According to a survey conducted by US Lacrosse in 2016, there are more than 825,000 lacrosse participants nationwide and lacrosse is the fastest-growing team sport in the United States.

The Under 11 girls learn skills at practice.

Chloe started playing in St. Augustine when she was in preschool. Now in fifth grade, playing lacrosse was part of her conditions when her family moved to the Keys three years ago.

“I love lacrosse because your team essentially becomes your family,” said Chloe. “It is truly about becoming a strong, persistent, powerful girl who plays her best, plus it’s a really fun sport.”

Migut hopes to start a Marathon youth lacrosse league next season. He said he’s garnered a lot of interest, but would like to round up more interested participants, volunteer coaches and referees. If interested, email him at [email protected].

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