Posted at: 01/31/2013 4:59 PM
Updated at: 01/31/2013 7:54 PM
By: Robin De Wind
Playing a sport and getting a top notch education is the dream many parents have for their children. One of the biggest opportunities for girls is in lacrosse. Our area has become a “hotbed” for the sport, attracting the attention of many Division I colleges.
Move over basketball and soccer, more girls from our area are now headed to college to play Division I lacrosse than boys. The Rochester area is now in the national spotlight attracting top level colleges who want to see our local talent.
Taylor Gebhardt, sophomore, said, “I think it's awesome to go to school for athletics and to play lacrosse at a top notch school. It's a great opportunity.”
Sophomore Taylor Gebhardt shares the same dream with all of these high school players, the hope of getting noticed by one of these Division I coaches.
Greg Gebhardt, Taylor's father, said, “Not so much for the boys anymore, it's a hotbed for lacrosse for girls. The girls want to play in college. There's 150 Division I teams, there's a place for everyone to play.”
Her father is also committed to Taylor getting a second look. The Gebhardt's are from Syracuse, but travel to Rochester several days a week in the summer so Taylor can play for “Relentless Hustle”, a local club team that is getting national recognition, by winning elite tournaments across the country.
Kevin O'Connell, “Relentless Hustless” coach, said, “I just think the Rochester area has grown nationally as you can see. You have coaches from Florida, UNC, they recognize the talent in Rochester NY. I think the success of the state tournaments, Brighton, HFL, Canandaigua have all been there. We've been competing last year. Class A,B,C we had representation from Section V schools.”
“Relentless Hustle” put on this lacrosse combine, attracting 200 girls from across the state, and 70 coaches from top schools. Maryland, Long Island and Syracuse used to be where coaches traveled to check out talent.
Melissa Pearsall, Asst. Coach, Colgate, said, “ Central NY has been the bread and butter of lacrosse. It is starting to be Rochester. They had great players go to North Western to win a national championships. That national stage shows a lot.”
22 juniors on “Relentless Hustle” have already committed to play Division I or Division II lacrosse. That's incentive for HF-L sophomore Kayla O’Connell.
Kayla O'Connell, HF-L sophomore, said, “The Rochester teams are doing good. We play off season in the winter. We have leagues, we play every Sunday.”
As more colleges add women's lacrosse, the opportunities are only growing for girls like Taylor.
Gebhardt said, “It's gotten 100-percent worth it at how far its gotten me. The commitment has gotten me to places I would have never been.”
To be clear, when we say scholarships, most girls are not getting full-rides, they are getting partial scholarships which opens the door for more opportunities for more girls to benefit. Michigan, schools in the Big 10 and even schools out west are adding women's lacrosse. So the opportunity in this sport is just beginning to climb for girls and is past peak for boys.