It is one of the fastest growing sports in the country, and on Saturday it will make its Fallon debut.
Oasis Academy will host South Reno at 1:30 p.m. at Regional Park in Churchill County’s first-ever lacrosse game.
“Things have been going great,” coach John Keitz said.
The Galena and Reno high school club teams are scheduled to play a neutral-site game on April 6 followed by Oasis. Keitz, though, changed his team’s schedule so the Fallon-based school would have the distinction of playing in the county’s first-ever lacrosse game.
“It occurred to me that Reno and Galena players would be the first to play in Churchill County, and we couldn’t have that,” Keitz said. “So we quickly got together this game against South Reno so Fallon players would be the first to play in Churchill County.
The game, which is the oldest sport in North America, looks to many like a hybrid of soccer, basketball, hockey and football. Players can substitute on the fly like in hockey, ram into one another as would football players, set up plays reminiscent of the basketball court and run up and down the field constantly as in soccer.
The lacrosse field is 110 yards by 65 yards, about 10 yards shorter than a soccer field. In addition, the game opens with a faceoff similar to hockey.
Players are equipped with shoulder pads, a helmet and a stick with a webbed net to cradled, shoot and pass the ball.
“We get a lot of football players,” Keitz said. “Traditionally there is a lot of crossover.”
Keitz, a former Boston University lacrosse player and Long Island, N.Y. native, said his team is ready for Saturday’s game. Oasis has 20 players on the roster including numerous students from the Churchill County School District.
The under-13 program, which has players ages 9-12, is in its inaugural season, Keitz said, thanks to a grant from the First Stick Program, which funded the equipment.
The Fallon school joined the High Sierra Youth Lacrosse League, which is comprised of six other teams. Oasis, though, does have some experience as three players competed with Keitz last season in the High Sierra League.
“Being able to spread it out here has been a thrill,” said Keitz, who teach at Lovelock Middle School. “I show up a half an hour early to the field and my guys are already there.”
Keitz said the Oasis Academy administration has been supportive of the move to bring lacrosse to the school.
The journey to the field, though, took four years as Keitz and Oasis kept applying for the grant to fund the program. Since the funds have been secured, Keitz said the money will allow for him to start an under-15 team next year.
“The board and the administration has been supportive,” Keitz said.