When former Key Peninsula resident Tracy Lyon isn’t working as Division Chief of training at Gig Harbor Fire and Medic One, he can usually be found coaching a local lacrosse team.
He’s been playing that role for about six years even though he had never played lacrosse and didn’t really know much about the sport. He had, however, coached wrestling and football, which gave him a good sense of how to interact with young athletes.
Because he wasn’t familiar with lacrosse, Lyon studied and took some training and became one of three certified “Level 3” lacrosse coaches in Washington state.
“I felt kind of obligated, because not having played the sport, I had to learn the sport myself and I felt obligated to the players to be the best coach possible,” Lyon said.
Today Lyon is the varsity lacrosse coach at Peninsula High School, coaching about 34 players on two teams, both varsity and JV.
Lacrosse is a combination of several other sports — basketball, soccer and hockey, he explained. “It’s very fast moving and there’s rarely a slow moment,” he said.
There are 10 players on each side and the goal is to carry the ball from one end of the field to the other and score a goal in a 6 by six-foot space at each end of the field.
Of the 34 kids Lyon coaches at PHS, only three live on the Key Peninsula.
“I want people on the Key to know that this is an up and coming sport,” he said.
One of the three KP lacrosse players is 18-year-old William Lester, who lives near Key Center.
Lester also plays football and does wrestling, and has known coach Lyon since junior high.
He has been playing lacrosse since the 7th or 8th grade, he said. “It was the first year lacrosse opened up and I was kind of bored with baseball. I love lacrosse — it’s definitely a lot faster than baseball and you get to hit people a little,” he said with a smile.
The position Lester plays — long stick middie (LSM) — lets him play either offense or defense, but mostly the latter.
“There’s a lot of physical contact and keeping yourself in front of the other guy, which I guess also helps you in football,” he said.
Any student who’s in the Peninsula High School area can play on the PHS team, Lyon said. “They can be PHS, home school or private school –- any kids who would normally go to Peninsula.”
There are a lot of first-timers on this year’s team and Lyon hopes to add more kids next year. “We’re getting just enough boys to make a full team, but I really need to get more kids from the KP,” he said.
Lyon looks for several key characteristics in his players.
“The number one thing we look for is how well you make the person next to you play, not your own personal talent,” he said.
“The kids develop friendships and keep in good physical condition and really build camaraderie. It’s a team sport, a contact sport, a combat sport. It’s an on-going, continuous ball-movement and running,” Lyon said.
The PHS teams will play against the teams from Gig Harbor High School on May 12 at PHS in what’s called the Baggataway Bowl, which is named after a form of lacrosse originally played by the Ojibwa Indians.
According to the Peninsula Lacrosse Association website, the event will include music, shoot offs and dinner. Game time is at 5:30 p.m.
For information, visit peninsulalacrosse.com.