Traverse City St. Francis Makes Northern Michigan History
TRAVERSE CITY – Over the last decade, the sport of lacrosse has slowly taken hold in northern Michigan.
With high school club programs forming in Traverse City, Sault Ste. Marie, Cadillac and Petoskey, the six-team Northern Michigan Lacrosse Conference was born.
Now one of those programs is branching out and making history.
Once a co-op with Traverse City West and Glen Lake, Traverse City St. Francis has become the first northern Michigan school to sponsor lacrosse at the MHSAA level.
With a schedule that is comprised of half downstate varsity programs and half club teams, the Gladiators are eligible to compete in the MHSAA postseason.
The transition from club to varsity sport has been in the making for some time.
"When we first started lacrosse in town, in the spring of 2001, this was the idea. This was the plan. This was the hope,” coach Michael Carroll said. “There’s a lot of work to do, but this is definitely a milestone.
"I personally felt an honor to be a part of it, and really sort of become a little bit more closely associated with the St. Francis family."
With a young roster, St. Francis (3-3) has experienced some growing pains, but has already enjoyed success at the new level with wins over varsity programs Holland Christian (18-1) and Kalamazoo United (11-6).
"We learned it’s a lot faster than we are now,” junior Tyler Revett said. “We need to improve on a lot of things, ground balls, passing, stuff like that.
"A lot of the programs around here are kind of watching what we’re doing this year. They want to see if we can do it right, and then maybe they’ll join, too. Hopefully northern Michigan lacrosse is something that starts to begin happening."
As the first MHSAA sponsored program in northern Michigan, St. Francis hopes that more local teams aren’t far behind.
"We’re pulling for them,” Carroll said. “I would say it’s better for all of us if we can become MHSAA sponsored teams. The other schools are excited about it. They’re cheering us on. They’ve been incredibly helpful and supportive."
St. Francis is back in action Tuesday, hosting NMLC foe Cadillac.