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Spartan boys lacrosse team looks to build on last year’s success | SPRING SPORTS PREVIEW
The co-head coaching duo behind the Bainbridge High School boys varsity lacrosse team are a unique lineup all by themselves.
Jack Visco, returning for his 13th year with the team, is the no-nonsense seasoned pro who knows the sport and was on the scene before lacrosse found its way to its currently increasing national popularity.
Cody Bludom, now in his fourth year as co-head coach, is a recent player-turned-coach fresh off the field himself who brings a new perspective to the Spartan sideline.
They, along with assistant coaches Zach Smith, Kris Skotheim, Tom Fuhman and Andy Constan, will return to the field Friday, March 14, leading the 2013 Division I Metro Conference state quarter-finalist Spartans in their season opener on the road against the two-time defending state champions from Bellevue High School.
It’s an imposing hurdle very early in the season, but Bludom refuses to let the shadow of a skilled opponent affect the team’s preseason preparation.
“We’re not so much focused on them,” he said of Bellevue. “We’re just focused on every single day showing up at practice and getting better.”
Regardless of the outcome of the first game, Bludom said that he does not allow the team to dwell on the past or the future.
“We never take it any more than one game ahead,” he said. “I’d say the biggest challenge is today and the next biggest challenge is tomorrow. As far as games go, we’re preparing to play Bellevue next, I suppose, since they’re next on our schedule. But we’ll be looking forward to playing the next person on our schedule after that. Our preparation doesn’t change.”
Bludom is a Bainbridge alumnus, having played under Visco on the Spartan lacrosse team.
“This is my fourth year actually coaching at the high school level,” he said. “I’m out of Western Washington University, I graduated from there. I graduated from Bainbridge High School. When I was a senior I was coaching the eighth-grade team and helping out with them, running the summer camps. It’s nice to be back and coaching for Bainbridge.”
The Spartans finished second in the Division 2 Metro Conference last year with a season record of 16-10. They were ultimately bested by Mercer Island in the state semifinals 7-6.
It was a good year by any measure, and the start of the season this year was bittersweet for Bludom as he began the process of counting his roster.
“We lost 12 to 13 seniors from last year’s team,” he said. “And we have four to five seniors this year. It’s [the team] a little bit younger, also we don’t have as many numbers as we did last year,” Bludom said.
“But everyone here has put in the time and the effort to become players in the offseason and they’ve committed to the type of style that we need. They’ve put in the commitment that we need from them to keep at the level that we want to. Although our numbers might be a little decreased from last year everyone here is super committed to where we want to go, which is ultimately the state championship.”
Bludom said that he considered the top championship contenders, in addition to Bainbridge, to be the Bellevue, Mercer Island and Issaquah teams.
Discussing the increased national popularity of lacrosse, especially at the high school level, Bludom said that he was glad the sport was becoming more established but also that the growing trends had not seemed to affect the Spartans.
“The growth is not as evident on Bainbridge Island as far as numbers go,” he said. “Where it is evident is across the Kitsaps of the world, popping up with programs. A lot of high schools, especially in Seattle, used to be a combination of high schools because they didn’t have enough players at one individual high school and now those high schools are now breaking apart and becoming more independent. There’s a lot of growth across the state, especially on the east side of the state.”
Bludom credits the popularity of the sport to its multifaceted and extremely strategic playing style.
“It’s not like football where you get to hit anyone at any time on the field,” he explained. “If you’re a little bit smaller and quicker, then you can use that to your advantage. Also if you’re a little bit slower and stronger, like I was when I was playing, you can also get smart and use that to your advantage on the field. There’s definitely spots for every type of player.”
The Spartan co-head coach said that he himself fell in love with the sport early on because of the opportunity it presents athletes who may not be the biggest or strongest on the field.
“[It’s] the combination of the physicality and also the grace of the game too,” he said. “The fact that it’s not always the best athlete that gets on the field and wins. It’s the guy who puts in the time to really work on his stick skills and everything. Obviously athleticism helps too, but there’s definitely a spot for a kid who really wants to work hard and put in the time and become a good lacrosse player.”
Several such hard-working Spartans have stepped up in the preseason to generate some excitement, including 2014 Pre-Season All-Conference First Team selections senior defender Reynolds Yarbrough, senior defender Reed Dolese and senior midfielder Dain Weisner.
Senior attackman Jackson Larkin and junior midfielder Ben LaRoche are also Spartans to watch, as they were named 2014 Pre-Season All-Conference Second Team selections.
Following their season premiere on the road, the Spartans will play their first home game at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 18 in the BHS stadium against Skyline High.