Steamboat Springs Had Jake and Andy Flax not picked up lacrosse sticks in summer 2002, it’s hard to tell where their lives might be.
But that summer proved to be a seminal moment for the Steamboat-raised brothers. It started a love of the sport that hasn't waned.
Now, that love will continue where it started.
Steamboat Youth Lacrosse director Neill Redfern is stepping down from the organization he founded, and the Flax brothers immediately will assume the lead role overseeing all operations.
“I had been thinking about it for the last couple of years,” Redfern wrote in an email. “The schedule that I created over the years became more difficult for me to handle as my family got older.”
Redfern started Steamboat Youth Lacrosse in 2003 with the goal of giving players a chance to play more than a couple of months out of the year. The organization steadily grew, seeing its most growth in 2006.
That season featured 71 middle school boys playing lacrosse in addition to 32 fourth- and fifth-graders.
It has maintained its numbers throughout the years and has U7 through high school-age teams. Last year, there were 40 eighth-grade boys who played. The summer season generally sees more than 200 players.
The Flax brothers graduated from Steamboat Springs High School in 2006 but had started helping Redfern with Steamboat Youth Lacrosse in 2005.
After graduation, both Flax brothers attended Colorado State University, where they played for the club lacrosse team. Eventually the two became leaders of the Rams club team, something that helped them prepare for the transition to heading up Steamboat Youth Lacrosse.
“We spent more time on that stuff than actually studying,” Andy Flax said. “We considered that a major. It was really how to run a team. I’m glad that’s coming into play.”
Andy Flax said he and his brother talked with Redfern in recent years about making the transition. Earlier this month, the three sat down and realized now was the time to do it.
“If you ask most players they will tell you that sportsmanship is number one, period, and effort is number two,” Redfern wrote. “Andy and Jake have grown up in this environment and will continue to maintain this culture. In addition, they have proven themselves as great coaches/clinicians.”
Redfern will stay on in the short term to help the transition. He said he still will work as a snowboard instructor at Steamboat Ski Area and will pursue other opportunities in the spring.
Andy Flax said they still were working out the exact structure of Steamboat Youth Lacrosse, but they are confident the transition will be seamless.
“It’ll still be good lacrosse,” he said. “We’ve all seen (Steamboat Youth Lacrosse) work. We don’t see a whole lot of reasons to change things.”
To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com