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Lacrosse clubs seeing growth across Northeast Wisconsin

Leaders say youth program expansion would introduce sport earlier
Posted at 6:42 PM, Apr 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-25 19:42:28-04

GREEN BAY, Wis. (NBC 26) — Bay Port’s varsity lacrosse club team was started in 2002, making it one of the oldest among Green Bay area high schools.

"It was one of the first lacrosse clubs in the area," head coach Jason Chaplin said. "We’ve been fortunate to start early so we can grow and take different steps."

Nineteen years later, the sport remains to be sanctioned by the WIAA, so clubs experience different levels of support and funding at various schools.

"We have really good support from the school, we have good support from our community as well. So the resources, the bussing piece, and all of those things our school actually helps take care of," Chaplin said.

"We don’t get any funding from the school or the state, but a lot of the structure of it is gonna be through the players," Notre Dame Academy's coach Michael Hinkfuss said. "They keep it running. They keep everything going. Everything is funded through the players and everything like that."

Both of these teams are coached by people close to the program who cared about the continuation of the clubs: Chaplin is a former Pirates football coach whose son took up lacrosse and decided to fill the coaching vacancy; Hinkfuss is a Notre Dame Academy lacrosse alum who saw the team's future in peril due to a lack of funding and development if he didn't return.

"A lot of kids don't know what lacrosse is until they get to high school," Hinkfuss said. The Tritons finally have a few players on their roster that have four or five years of playing experience under their belt, what Hinkuss said is somewhat rare locally today.

"So it really starts at the youth level, and then it's going to make it's way up here," Hinkfuss continued. "Youth has really taken off in the past few years, but we just need to keep growing the game. That's what it comes down to."

Chaplin credits Jesse Nagan, a member of Bay Port's first lacrosse team, for coming back to the area after college and starting the Green Bay Youth Lacrosse Club.

"Between them and the Oneida youth program, that's who feeds the Green Bay metro area," Chaplin said. "So I would give credit to Jesse for teaching these kids to really have fun playing this sport ... it's probably the fastest growing sport in the state."