Three students participate in non-traditional sports

By Courtney Cooke

Sarah Fulton, sports editor, Sarah Gonzales, reporter, Joel Hodgdon, reporter/ads

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Freshman T.J. Phillips

Freshman T.J. Phillips is in a class of his own. The lone athlete from the school on his club lacrosse team, he enjoys the uniqueness of his chosen sport.

“I’ve been playing lacrosse since I was in fourth grade and I’ve always loved the sport,” Phillips said. “It’s fast and very fun.”

A spring sport, lacrosse is played with 10 players: three defenders, three midfielders, three attackers and one goalie.

“Lacrosse is like a couple different sports, it has some similar positions to soccer and is played like hockey,” Phillips said. “Like in hockey, in lacrosse you can go behind the goal about ten yards.”

Phillips acknowledged that, unlike hockey or soccer, lacrosse isn’t the first sport most people choose to play.

“On the East Coast everybody plays, it just hasn’t got to the midwest and Kansas yet,” Phillips said.

He remains hopeful in the sport’s potential to grow.

“It’s really growing in the youth league, where before there were four or five teams, now there are 12.”

US Lacrosse, the national governing body of men’s and women’s lacrosse, has also reported that the sport is growing. On average the participation of lacrosse at the youth level has grown over the last 10 years by 9 percent annually.

For Phillips and his club team, the Blue Valley West Jaguars, the future is bright. In May of last year the team went 9-0 in the city championship tournament. Phillips hopes that his team’s early preparation and new members will help them make a repeat bid for the championship.

“We started practice in December, hopefully it will pay off,” Phillips said.

He gave some tips for aspiring lacrosse athletes hoping to learn the sport.

“You need to just practice the essentials, shooting and catching,” Phillips said. “Once you get the basics down it really is tons of fun.”

Senior Ally Brake

Senior Ally Brake describes her football team as “family.” Brake joined the Kansas City Spartans women’s football team as a wide-receiver after she turned 18. The team members range in age from 18 to 40, including several All-American players.

“We are very diverse and a pretty fun, easy going team,” Brake said. “We really have some very good athletes.”

Brake and The Spartans play in the Women’s Football Alliance, a coalition of 60 teams from all over the country. Games are every weekend with teams playing the teams closest to them geographically. The Spartans are based out of the Shawnee Mission North District Stadium.

Brake used to be nervous before games, but now she says they are second nature and she looks forward to playing.

“At first it was nerve racking, there are a lot of things to think about. But once you get out there it feels so good just to play and to get things right,” Brake said. “Now games just kind of happen, I eat a sandwich to prepare and then I play.”

Sophomore Lilly Hanning

Prancing, trotting, and saddles are all necessary in competitive horseback riding. Sophomore Lilly Hanning has been riding horses since she was two years old.

“My uncle had a horse, and I rode it for the first time,” Hanning said. “I bonded with that horse and I started taking lessons. Now I show on my own.”

Hanning and her horse, Unreal Britches, have been successful in placing at shows.

“She scored a few high point awards,” trainer Mary Sharp said. “She has gotten Rider of the Year award a few times. I felt really proud of her. She’s worked hard and she thought she wasn’t going to be successful because she had just started.”

Being successful has helped her find benefits and drawbacks of horseback riding.

“The best thing is the bonds that you create with the horses and I also love teaching little kids,” Hanning said. “The worst thing for me is probably staying physically in shape. You use many different muscles groups when you ride.”

Even though Hanning has her likes and dislikes, her trainer pin-pointed her strengths and weaknesses.

“Lilly’s strength is that she had a horse first mentality and she is always willing to learn more,” Sharp said. “Her weakness is that she needs to be more flexible when things do not go the way she wants them to. I don’t want her to get frustrated when things don’t go as planned. With horses you always have to expect the unexpected and learn to be okay with that.”

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