Founded in 2008, the Valley Tigers Lacrosse Club are members of the Nebraska High School Lacrosse League based roughly two hours from Central Iowa in Omaha, NE. The Tigers joined the league as a JV team in the 2009 season. They moved to the varsity level in 2010 where they have finished in the top four in each of the last three season under the guidance of head coach Zach Zielonko. Their overall varsity record includes 39 wins and 11 losses over three seasons.
Let’s be frank: The tail end of this winter has been unkind to lax programs that are in the Snow Belt. As is our usual custom, the Valley Tigers held indoor/gym practices throughout the month of February. Unlike most years, we lost a few nights of practice to heavy snowfall and school cancellations. Over the last couple of years we were able to split into two groups with half the boys going outside to do conditioning and the other half doing stick work in the gym; this year that became impossible due to the ever present snow. Still, we managed to get some quality work in with higher preseason numbers than usual (averaging 28 boys per night).
We were scheduled to begin our regular outdoor practices on March 5. Then we got pelted by another snowstorm. What was supposed to be flurries on Monday morning turned into six inches of heavy wet snow. Parking lots were unsuitable for practice, let alone fields. We scrambled and managed to book a gym on Monday night, much to our frustration. Having to delay our plans by a week, we prepared for practices last Tuesday only to be hit by a late afternoon turn that saw more snow and high speed icy winds force us into canceling yet again.
With snow still covering our fields, we held our first outdoor practices in a parking lot last Wednesday. Our ranks were noticeably impacted by Spring Break with students skipping town early due to parent-teacher conferences on Thursday and Friday. Thursday was even worse.
Following a spectacularly warm weekend, the forecast for this week looked spectacular – until Monday morning. I woke to find a snow covered driveway and yard and literally cursed the heavens. With yesterday’s temperatures in the high-30s with no precipitation, we pushed ahead with practice – on grass – as scheduled. The Spring Break effect was in full force last night as I had four or five varsity players and a handful of JV players. On the positive side, the bulk of the middle school team was on hand for their first practice! All but one of the coaches were on hand as well.
Because of Spring Break, I only scheduled two practices this week. I am curious to see what tomorrow brings…
Our first game is scheduled for next Saturday, March 30. That gives us one week of actual, solid practice to prepare both the varsity and JV squads. Now I am praying that the forecast holds out (or improves) because we simply cannot afford to cancel any more practices. Thank God we have a lot of returning talent on both teams…