Less than a decade ago when someone in the Pasco County area mentioned girls’ lacrosse, the reactions varied: Many didn’t know it existed in the area, and some weren’t even 100% sure what it was.
Suffice it to say, lacrosse has come a long way. That’s especially true when it comes to girls’ lacrosse.
Now, each local high school boasts a varsity lacrosse team. And, there’s a travel team based out of Pasco, too.
It has been a slow process.
High schools in the Pasco area started by adopting lacrosse as a club sport more than a decade ago.
In those days, they searched long and hard to find opposing teams.
Back then, most schedules included just a few games each season and there weren’t any playoffs.
But for the past five years, it has been a school-sanctioned varsity sport. Each school now plays full district schedules, beginning in mid-February.
The teams play 12 games to 15 games a season. They have a chance to compete in playoffs, and, then, of course, go for a state title.
The Tampa Titans — the only girls’ lacrosse travel team in Pasco — provides a chance for girls to play the sport year-round.
Some of those players aspire to play at the collegiate level, and some receive offers to do just that.
In addition to the Titans, there’s a team called Titans Carolina, which is for girls who are new to the sport or who are at an intermediate skill level and hope to move up to play for the Titans.
Both the Titans and Titans Carolina are led by experienced coaches from Wiregrass Ranch, Land O’ Lakes, Cypress Creek and Wesley Chapel high schools.
The league also offers clinics during the year for those interested in learning the game or who want to remain active, during their high school team’s off-season.
In case you’re one of those people who is unfamiliar with the sport, lacrosse is a game where opposing teams try to get a small rubber ball into their opponent’s goal. Instead of kicking or throwing the ball with their hands or feet, they use long sticks with a net-like basket, which they use to pick up, carry, throw, catch and shoot the ball.
The Titans lacrosse program is now limited to girls who are in currently in seventh grade up to those entering senior year. But later this year, the organization plans to begin allowing girls as young as age 5 to play.
Jessica Norman, vice president of operations for the Titans, has witnessed the benefits of girls playing lacrosse beyond their school team’s schedule.
Her daughter, Chloe, gave up volleyball and track as a freshman at Land O’ Lakes to concentrate on playing lacrosse. She plays for the Gators and the Titans.
She decided to focus exclusively on lacrosse after noticing interest in the sport beginning to grow.
The senior midfielder’s dedication has resulted in a scholarship to play at the University of Montevallo (Division II) in Alabama in the fall.
Jessica Norman is enthused about opportunities to play lacrosse is being expanded for younger players.
“The biggest benefit will be learning and playing the sport together from a young age,” she said. “When a team plays together from a young age, it can be a force to be reckoned with for many years to follow,” she said. That, she added, “helps build a very strong team as well as many lifelong friendships.”
Alix Baldini coaches Chloe Norman for the Land O’ Lakes girls’ lacrosse team and the Titans.
Baldini knows how beneficial it can be for the girls to essentially play lacrosse year-round.
It gives them more chances to build their skills and to gain exposure, which can be beneficial if they are interested in competing at the college level, she said.
“Lacrosse has grown tremendously within the last decade, especially in areas where most had never heard of the sport unless they were from up north along the east coast,” said the sixth-year coach. “High school lacrosse continues to be one of the top sports played by girls due to its versatility of movements from sports like soccer, basketball, volleyball and hockey, as well as its genuine fun and action-packed atmosphere.”
As the league allows more players, the sport will gain greater exposure and is likely to grow, Baldini said.
“Getting kids into the sport at a young age makes it easier to grow and advance compared to those — who, like me — just started playing when they are introduced to the sport in high school,” she said.
Tampa Titans Tryouts
What: Tryouts for the summer season of the Tampa Titans
When: March 6 and March 21, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Where: Land O’ Lakes Recreation Complex, 3032 Collier Parkway, at the fields
Who: Tryouts open to players currently in seventh grade to 11th grade
Info: Email , or visit https://tampatitanslacrosse.sportngin.com/
By Justin Dargahi
Published February 02, 2022