Six represent Forsyth at national lacrosse tourney

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July 6, 2009

By BJ Corbitt

As girls lacrosse gains more prominence in Georgia and nationally, Forsyth County is thoroughly on board the trend.

If you need proof, just take a look at this year’s U.S. Lacrosse Women’s Division National Tournament.

Held this year over Memorial Day weekend in Bel Air, Md., northeast of Baltimore, the event annually features top high school talent from across the nation.

In past years, the sport was so underrepresented in Georgia that Peach State representatives were bundled in with surrounding states just to field a team.

This year, enough talent was found in Georgia to field two teams from the state (with a handful of girls from Alabama thrown in).

What’s more, out of 40 players on the state’s two national teams, a half dozen hailed from Forsyth County.

More than 130 girls tried out for the teams, in sessions lasting up to five hours.

“The fact that six Forsyth County girls made [the teams] out of 40, that’s a huge percentage,” said Pam McNabb, who evaluated tryouts for the teams, as well as serving as coach for the state’s second team.

McNabb, who coached Georgia’s first national team back in 2001, says that lacrosse has gained legs around the state since being sanctioned as a varsity sport four years ago.

Lacrosse is currently the state’s fastest growing sport at the youth, high school and college level, she said.

Dobbin Prezzano, a local youth lacrosse coach and president of the sport’s booster club at West Forsyth, said the girls who represented Forsyth on the national level have been at the vanguard of the sport’s expansion locally.

“Each of the girls playing for this team were just starting out in youth leagues within the past two to three years. Now they are playing against the best high school teams in the country and really the world,” he said.

He said that by helping put Forsyth County on the radar for the larger lacrosse community, top local players have brought more attention from college recruiters and organizers of camps and clinics.

“Long story short, these players have paved the way for girls in our county to join the fastest growing sport in the country,” Prezzano said.

Taylor Hagin, a rising junior at West Forsyth, was one of the local players to make the trip, competing on Georgia’s first team.

She was joined by fellow Wolverine Nikki Erdely, North Forsyth’s Renee Blais and South Forsyth’s Jenna Kasmarik.

Local selections for the second team were West’s Haley Holder and South’s Morgan Shumate.

“I got to meet a lot of new girls, and it was a lot of fun to get to know them. The competition up there was way more intense than down here,” Hagin said.

The trip was a bit of a homecoming for Hagin, who relocated to Forsyth County from Annapolis, Md.

“It has grown so much,” she said of lacrosse locally.

“I remember when I first moved here, it definitely wasn’t as big, but it’s definitely getting better.”

While Georgia’s teams found themselves overmatched against the other teams at the tournament, going a combined 0-7 in pool play, McNabb said that being exposed to the best talent — and the college recruiters inevitably found nearby — is always a good thing.

“[Girls] see lacrosse at one level here. ... We go up north and it’s a completely different level, where girls have been playing since they were tiny,” McNabb said.

“I think for girls that have not been to one of these tournaments and even parents ... it’s kind of eye-opening. If you only see lacrosse locally in Georgia and then you go to an event like this, it’s like [you think], ‘Yeah, that’s what lacrosse is supposed to look like.’”

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