Andy and Jake Flax returned in early April to Monarch High School to help coach the Steamboat Springs High School boys freshman lacrosse team.
The two brothers, who have become staples in the Steamboat lacrosse program, had been there before. This time, they couldn’t help but laugh.
Steamboat, playing its second game of the day, easily beat Monarch. What a difference.
Monarch “was the first field we ever played on in high school, and we lost 22-0,” Jake Flax said.
Since the Flax brothers graduated from Steamboat in 2006, their lives have been consumed by lacrosse. The two played on the club team at Colorado State University and returned every summer to help coach Steamboat Youth Lacrosse.
In October, longtime Steamboat Youth Lacrosse Director Neill Redfern stepped down from the organization. The Flax brothers took over and now oversee all operations.
“Neill literally gave us a timeline of what and when we had to do everything,” Jake Flax said. “It was a master sheet. It was so helpful. It was the preparation Neill put into it the last 10 years.”
The high school team has experienced unprecedented success the past few years, but it wouldn’t be close to where it is without the work of Redfern and Steamboat Youth Lacrosse.
The organization was formed in 2003, a year after the high school had played its first game in spring 2002. The organization steadily grew, seeing its largest growth in 2006. It has maintained its numbers throughout the years and has elementary school- through high school-age teams. In the summer, there are 200 to 250 players in all age groups.
“It has been huge,” Steamboat Springs High School boys lacrosse coach Bob Hiester said. “Every successful program in the state will have a strong youth program. That was a big, big stepping stone for us.”
For the Flax brothers, who grew to love the game in 2002, taking over the organization hasn’t been daunting.
The two served in administrative roles for the CSU Rams club lacrosse team, which involved setting up games and booking plane tickets and hotels, among other things.
Now, the two have the task of keeping one of Steamboat’s biggest youth programs thriving.
“The size of the community is manageable,” Andy Flax said. “Here you get a lot of individual coaching. It’s not like a place like Littleton, where you have to fight for players.”
The organization will continue to look similar to how it did under Redfern. The spring leagues already are shaping up to be the largest yet.
“The smallest team this year is bigger than the biggest last year,” Jake Flax said.
And if there are two guys who understand the game and what it takes to be successful at all levels, it’s the Flax brothers.
They grew up in the program, started helping with Steamboat Youth Lacrosse eight years ago and understand what a powerful driving force the league has.
“We understand it,” Andy Flax said. “There are very few kids in the high school program right now that don’t play in the SYL programs.”