When you think of Kansas, what are some of the things that come to mind? The Bible Belt, Bad Weather, Slow Lifestyles, and Lacrosse. One of those things doesn’t quite belong in a traditional sense, but here in Wichita, there are a few devoted fans of the Creator’s game and interest is starting to pick up.
My name is Garrett Alley and I am the Vice President for the Wichita Wingmen Lacrosse Club. Like some post collegiate clubs, we are completely volunteer based, which means we can have weeks where 20 people show up to practice and others where we can barely run 3v3.
The goal of this blog is to “Grow the Game” in non-traditional areas, just like other blogs on this website have done. It will feature pictures from practice, games, club activities, the lacrosse scene in the surrounding area, and helping others. So you can get to know us better here is a little background on some of the members of the Wingmen.
“I grew up in Minnesota before lacrosse took hold there, but I was able to start playing at Iowa State where I went to college. I moved to Germany for work and played for the K-town Lumberjacks. Work again moved me to Wichita and I now play for the Wingmen.” –Joe Macdonald (Treasurer), Midfielder/FO Specialist
“I started playing lacrosse at Oklahoma State University after being inspired by a cousin who played lacrosse at West Point. Work brought me to Wichita, and I joined the men’s club here and helped as an assistant coach with the high school club program. I have been an assistant coach for the high school program for about 6 years and I still play with the Wingmen.” –Stephen Sczepanski, Midfielder/FO Specialist
“In 6th grade I realized I suck at baseball, so I began playing lacrosse in Massachusetts. Played through high school, but not in college. I came to Wichita for work and was ecstatic/surprised to discover the Wingmen.” –Dan Niemczyk (President), Midfielder
“I started playing lacrosse here in Wichita in 04-05. A guy from Maryland reached out to the local hockey teams and I heard from my buddy so I started playing. We started the first high school team in Wichita & it’s bloomed into what we are now. I’ve been playing ever since.” –Allen North, Attack
“I was going to college in Hawaii and wanted to play a sport. Found the Hawaii lacrosse team and started playing with the men’s club team in 06-07. Came back to the states and coached HS teams in Washington, Colorado, and a MCLA team for Mesa Colorado University. Now I’m here, joined with the Wingmen since 2013.” –Paul Sawatski (Public Relations Coordinator/Secretary), Attack/Midfielder
“I went on a trip to the east coast when I was 16 (20 years ago) and went on a tour of Annapolis where I saw the Navy guys practicing. It was in the back of my mind off and on but every time I tried to reach out and find people who played I hit a dead end. I had just about given up hope until about 5 years ago when I found the Wingmen and I’ve been playing ever since.” –Jay Jacoby, Defense
“I was hit up by some lacrosse players outside of the student union at Kansas State University in the fall of 2000. I joined the team, ended up being Club President for 2 years, and garnered 2 years’ worth of First Team All-Conference honors as well as an Honorable Mention All-American nod. I was an original member of the Wingmen, and am currently trying to build the HS level here in Wichita.” –Tim VanWye, Attack
“I was first to lacrosse while playing in Water Polo tournament at Stanford. Decades later I went to see my doctor and he told me that I need to exercise and pick up a sport. I was at Sluggers and I heard that there was a league, they gave me the info and I met with Dick Neil and he told me to drop by and watch a game. I first wanted to play the field until I saw a game and decides to play the position I had played while playing Water Polo and Hockey, a goal keeper. I am also a referee and I am happy to see that the sport is growing in our area.” -Steve Duarte. Goalkeeper
“Because of how New Mexico blue laws influenced when beer was sold, I was up early on a Saturday morning in the Spring of 1986 to buy beer, and while walking across the University of New Mexico lacrosse field I asked by the players what I was doing and they were so impressed at how organized I was that I became the team Treasurer for the next two years! Graduated and played in North California for years. I joined the Wingmen when I moved back to Wichita from California.” Chris O’Neil, Midfield/FO Specialist
“Growing up in the hot bed of lacrosse in Northern New York, I had a stick in my hand early during grade school due to the fact that I had a brother that played Division 1 at West Point. I started playing organized lacrosse in 9th grade for the Massena Central High School JV team. I went on to captain the Varsity team in my Senior Year. In 2006, I walked on to the D3 Clarkson University Lacrosse Team. When I came to Wichita for work in 2011, I was pleasantly surprised to hear they had a team in the form of the Wichita Wingmen. It has been a lot of fun playing and spreading my knowledge when I am able.” –Adam Smith, Midfield/Attack
“My brother played for the Wingmen and convinced me to join in 2009. I had never played before and the first game was Chumash in a basketball gym with brick walls for out of bounds. I was hooked and have been playing since.” –Derrick Idbeis, Midfield
“I played lacrosse since 9th grade til my sr yr.I was fortunate to play indoor lax for awhile.I moved to wichita and play for the Wingmen.” -John Kempski, Midfield
“I was looking to learn a new sport while trying to get back in to some type of shape. Just browsing the interwebs and found the Wingmen website, getting showed up at a high school practice and threw around afterwards and was hooked.” -Garrett Alley (Vice-President), Midfield
More updates from our practices that have just started up coming soon. You can follow us on Facebook at Wichita Wingmen Lacrosse, twitter @wichitalacrosse and our website wichitalacrosse.com