Luke Graham's column appears periodically in the Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4229 or lgraham@SteamboatToday.com.
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Steamboat Springs It has been talked about over and over again how lacrosse is growing rapidly at the local, regional and state levels. And for good reason.
For years, Steamboat Springs lacrosse programs seemed destined to be years behind their peers on the Front Range. It wasn't for a lack of effort, but long winters, long road trips to games and a lack of competition seemed to hold back the progress of lacrosse in the Yampa Valley.
But Steamboat seems to be catching up rather quickly. The best evidence has come in the past couple of weeks.
Steamboat Youth Lacrosse teams have had strong showings in tournaments. The Steamboat eighth-grade red team won its home tournament for the first time in the six-year history of the tournament.
And it wasn't like years past when an eighth-grade team dropped down a division. This year, Steamboat played in the best, beat the best and proved its team was, in fact, the best.
Last week, departing Steamboat Springs High School seniors Jasper Gantick and Gus Worden took part in a camp to make the All-Colorado lacrosse team.
Worden will play at Adrian College in Adrian, Mich., in the fall, while Gantick will play at Monroe Community College in Rochester, N.Y.
Still, the two showed how far the lacrosse program has come since they started playing in sixth and seventh grade.
More than 60 of the top players from Colorado - about a quarter of which have full rides to Division I colleges - showed up to the three-day camp at George Washington High School.
The camp ran Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday with cuts coming at the end of each day.
"We went down there and some guys kept asking, 'Where are you from again?'" Gantick said. "But we played with them, and the coaches liked us. They liked our program."
Worden and Gantick made the cut the first two days. With only 39 players left, the coaches cut the roster down to 32, leaving the two Sailors just on the outside.
Although they didn't make the team, they proved they were among 40 of the best players in Colorado.
For comparison, Lewis-Palmer's Brian Cole - a career 200-goal scorer in high school - who helped beat Steamboat in the opening round of the playoffs, was cut on the first day.
It goes to show how rapidly Steamboat appears to be leveling the playing field.
So while the growth of lacrosse seems to be plateauing, the level of play in Steamboat keeps improving.