CLOVER — Carroll Hester, athletic director at Clover High School, is thrilled when the spring sports season arrives because of the number of student-athletes the season reaches.
Hester’s anticipation has been heightened, with the addition of two lacrosse teams to the spring slate. Both teams are scheduled to host their first official home games this week and next.
The CHS boys lacrosse team, coached by Matt Lindner, hosted Nation Ford on Feb. 20, while the girls team, coached by Danielle John, hosted the Nation Ford lacrosse team Monday.
All lacrosse games will be played at Clover Memorial Stadium.
“We’re excited to have two new sports added to the spring sports season,” said Hester. “Lacrosse is a growing sport. There are a good many kids showing an interest in the sport and participating in club lacrosse.”
The emergence of high school lacrosse in the Palmetto State has come as no surprise to Hester.
Some compare the growing popularity of lacrosse to high school soccer 20 years ago. Soccer was on the rise in those years. Next came club soccer, and suddenly, the sport had arrived.
“That is a great comparison,” Hester said of soccer’s impact on the high school sports scene. “Interest in lacrosse is growing locally and across the state. Fort Mill’s state championship performance against J. L. Mann drew attention to the sport here in York County.”
In an effort to tap into the potential for lacrosse at CHS, Hester conducted a feasibility study before school board approval of the new sport.
The study revealed that 141 students in grades six to 11 — 97 boys, 44 girls — expressed interest in competing in lacrosse, if the sport became an option. Of those surveyed, 25 said they had played lacrosse or were playing it.
Hester noted that the CHS lacrosse teams are playing a jayvee schedule the first year.
“By fielding jayvee teams, seventh and eighth-graders can compete the first year,” noted Hester. “Varsity teams are grades 9 to 12.”
Said Hester of his projections for high school lacrosse, “I think it’s a matter of time before other high schools in the area, including York, will have lacrosse teams.”
York Comprehensive High School athletic director Steve Boyd agrees. “We will consider lacrosse someday in York School District One,” Boyd said. “For now, our focus is to expand the athletic department at York Middle School.
“I believe the day will come when York Comprehensive High School will offer lacrosse.”
Hester noted that the spring sports season, lacrosse included, is the busiest of all of the high school sports seasons.
“Spring sports is an exciting time of the year,” he said. “It reaches more student-athletes than any of the sports seasons.
“With the addition of boys and girls lacrosse, we’ll have from 14 to 16 teams competing this season.”
Hester said the spring sports slate will reach more than 200 student-athletes.
“We’ll have teams competing six days a week in the various spring sports, extending to Saturdays,” he noted. “We also have two middle schools with active spring sports participation.”
Added Hester, “Other high school sports seasons are busy. The spring sports season is very busy.”
With gas prices soaring once again, Hester said having seven York County teams in Region 3-AAAA will save the school district money on travel expenses compared to years ago, when Blue Eagle teams traveled to Greenville-Spartanburg, Columbia and as far away as Camden.
“We are fortunate to have so many schools close together,” said Hester. “It cuts down on travel expense for the teams as well as the parents and fans.”
Hester added that the athletic department continues to emphasize pride in the classroom as well as competitive sports.
“We keep up with student-athletes’ grades,” he said
“This will always be a point of emphasis.”