Janesville Lacrosse Club feeds players' competitive desires
JANESVILLE You need a good lure to get Tommy Dvorak out of the pool.
The Janesville Parker High senior is a four-time state qualifier who is dedicated to swimming to a fault.
But Dvorak needed a break after swimming 10,000 yards per week for about eight months straight. The answer was lacrosse.
"It's diverse. It's fast," said Dvorak, who has been playing for the Janesville Lacrosse Club for three seasons. "It's definitely not like any other game, and I just got really into it."
Lacrosse is played on a field 110 yards long and 60 yards wide with 6-by-6-foot goals at each end. Ten players—three attack, three midfielders, three defenders and a goalie—are on a team.
The players carry sticks (crosses). The head of the stick is strung with loose mesh designed to catch and hold the small rubber ball, which is thrown, caught and carried by players.
Offensively, the objective is to score by shooting the ball into an opponent's goal. Defensively, the objective is to keep the opposing team from scoring and to take the ball through the use of stick checking and body contact or positioning.
"It's different," said Dvorak, who will major in biochemistry at UW-Madison with an eye toward medical school. "It's more of a team sport, and it's fun to work with the guys."
Players wear helmets and shoulder pads for a reason. Dvorak admits to having "plenty" of bruises.
"It's a physical game," said Jared Krueger, a senior who played fullback for Janesville Craig High. "In football, you run a lot, but (lacrosse) is a lot more running."
Krueger, who has played for two seasons, said lacrosse is a good transition from football.
"I love that it's physical," Krueger said.
Krueger enjoys the bond with his teammates.
"Everybody gets a chance to play in lacrosse," Krueger said. "Whether you are the best or not the best, it's who plays the best with each other on the field, whereas with football, you just might sit on the bench the whole game."
Krueger is sorry it took him so long to learn about lacrosse.
"I wish I would have started a lot earlier," said Krueger, who is a two-year competitor. "It's really a fun sport."
Craig Fischer, the club's high school team coach, said lacrosse is intricate.
"It's a thinking man's game," Fischer said. "You've always got to be looking for the open man. You can't let your guard down."
Fischer, an eighth-grade science teacher at Edison Middle School, did not play lacrosse, but his son brought him into the sport.
"My high school son decided he was going to stop playing baseball and play lacrosse," Fischer said. "I just kind of jumped on board."
Fischer has been with the program for four years and has learned to appreciate the game.
"It's the speed," Fischer said of the attraction. "You combine the speed with the physicality of it, and there is some finesse to it and the strategy."
Fischer said the players "just love to play."
"I like being around those kind of kids that are passionate about it," said Fischer, who has coached track, football and baseball.
The Janesville Lacrosse Club has experience phenomenal growth in a short time.
The high school team had a record 72 players turn out this year. Twenty-four are on varsity, and the rest are split between two junior varsity teams.
"Our biggest issue right now is finding field space," Fischer said. "We could grow as fast as we could build fields."
High school varsity and junior varsity games are played at Optimist Park. The program carries eight teams, starting with third- and fourth-graders.
John Haney began the program in 2007 and is surprised it has 160 participants this year.
"It's the first year we've had to put kids on a waiting list," Haney said. "It's kind of bittersweet. It's good to have the growth, but at the same time, I kind of made it a personal vow not to turn anybody away."
Ken Veloskey is a sports writer for The Gazette.
More on lacrosse
Information on the Janesville Lacrosse Club is at janesvillelacrosse.com.