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Showcase shines

Steve Puterski
sputerski@lahontanvalleynews.com
Damonte Ranch and Galena square off during Saturday's High Sierra Lacrosse jamboree at the Churchill County Regional Park.
Steve Ranson / sranson@lahontanvalleynews.com | LVN

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For information about the High Sierra Lacrosse League, visit http://www.highsierralax.org.

The grassroots reach of the High Sierra Lacrosse League marched its way into Fallon on Saturday for the organization’s annual jamboree at the Churchill County Regional Park.

The is jamboree a yearly preseason event before the regular season begins. Fallon was chosen as the host after complications arose in Washoe County. It also acted as a fundraiser for the Oasis Academy Bighorns, Fallon’s youth lacrosse program.

As has become tradition in the Oasis of Nevada, the event went off without a hitch. Even the cooler temperatures and brisk rain were a welcomed treat as snow blanketed Reno and the Sierra Nevada.

“The weather for most of Northern Nevada was fairly overcast and snowy,” HSLL Vice President Bud Haley said. “Fallon had some of the best weather around … which is very funny, but it’s true.”

Hosted and organized by the Bighorns, the city of Fallon and Churchill County, the jamboree featured 17 boys high school club teams. As for the girls programs, none was in attendance as a majority of their coaches play for the University of Nevada, who had a game on Saturday.

Nevertheless, the influx of sticks, pads and helmets were just another way for the HSLL to expose this rural community to the nation’s fastest growing sport.

“The fields were line perfectly, tents were set up and vendors were there,” Haley added. “One of the neatest things coming into Fallon was to see the support of the community. It showed a lot of pride in the town.”

Haley said parents, coaches and players were thrilled with the welcome as city signs and marquees littered the sidewalks directing the visitors where to go.

In addition, the food, demonstrations, Navy color guard and overall atmosphere were a big hit.

However, it was the work of Oasis coach John Keitz and board member Jackie Allen and her husband, Rob, which made Saturday run so smooth.

“It was great,” Keitz said. “It was overwhelmingly positive. Not just our focus, but what the city gave them with the banners and the Parks and Rec people. They were just amazed.”

The growth of the league has been steady. Haley said the goal is to expand responsibly, as evident by the pace of Oasis.

Keitz, coach of the Bighorns, began the program in 2013 and since then has slowly added a number of teams. Oasis currently has two boys teams — under-13 and 15 and a girls U13-15 — and will join the boys high school ranks next season.

But the jamboree gave his teams a glimpse of what to expect next year.

“They were eager to get out on the field and play,” Keitz said. “There was a little bit of looking at them (the high school players) and going ‘Wow, look at the size of them.’ A little trepidation, but other than that, they were ready to play.”

For the league, though, Fallon is another market added to the arsenal. Haley said other communities with interest can look to Fallon’s example of how to cautiously grow.

Allen said in a previous interview the league is eyeing a high school team at Reed and is targeting the Carson City and South Lake Tahoe markets.

Haley, though, added the league isn’t interested in hounding communities who may not have enough interest or support.

Still, the league does put its money where its mouth is. Haley said they assist programs with costs and directs interested coaches to certification, to name a few examples.

Another bonus, Haley added, is the league is supported by U.S. Lacrosse, which assists leagues in growing programs and coaches.