We’ve all heard about a lacrosse team in Southern Utah so I set out to find out about this team. To my surprise, there is a healthy program in St. George called RedRock Lacrosse. Because of their location, they play in the Southern Nevada Lacrosse Association. This program has overcome many struggles along the way and its continued success is a credit to founder, Dan Gibbons. I was able to get some insight into Dan’s lacrosse upbringing as well as RedRock Lacrosse.
RedRock (yes, one misspelled word) Lacrosse began when a P.E. teacher, Karen Kamalu, asked Dan to show her how to use a lacrosse set she received for gym class in 2006. The kids who were part of that first class, Dan proudly reports, finished 11-3 in D-II of the SNLA in 2011. Dan has continued for the past 5 years volunteering his time to help P.E. teachers with 6th and 7th grade lacrosse in the Fall. He runs a camp one day a week for five weeks in October in which about 80 percent of RedRock Lacrosse players participate in the camp, drawing more then 100 boys and girls playing at all levels above 4th grade. Dan also coaches RedRock Lacrosse in the spring. He hasn’t done it all by himself though. Nik Johnson responded to an ad which Dan ran in a local newspaper and has been by his side the entire time. Dan also attributes an adult indoor league he ran during the 2010 winter season for being able to recruit several other coaches. He continues to hang flyers up at Dixie State College each fall to attract more coaches as RedRock Lacrosse continues to grow. On top of all that, Dan insists that all RedRock Lacrosse coaches complete US Lacrosse Level 1 and PCA training which they all have done.
Despite being a small group, Dan says the community support has been excellent.
“Last season, we hosted and won our first home playoff game against Faith Lutheran under the lights at Desert Hills High School. We won 13-3 in front of 300 fans,” said Dan. RedRock Lacrosse teams play at Desert Hills, Dixie and Pine View high school football fields because they have players from each school and their Athletic Directors fully support lacrosse. Dixie State College Hansen Stadium hosted the SNLA JV championship game last season.
Being in Southern Utah has its advantages as well; they have outstanding weather for spring lacrosse which means they have never shoveled a field or lost a ball in the snow. Dan states, “We have successfully completed 12-14 game seasons since 2009. We have never forfeited and only had one Las Vegas team forfeit. We get 6-7 home games per season. We are looking for more officials all the time. I’m sure there are former players at Dixie State who could earn some nice pay. We will host approximately 20 home games this season.”
Dan, who grew up in Cleveland, Ohio graduated from Ohio Wesleyan AND Ohio State Universities and moved to St. George in 1994. He and his wife have a son, Michael, who is a RedRock goalkeeper, and a daughter. Dan credits his fraternity brothers at Ohio Wesleyan for inspiring him to take up the game. In 1990 Dan began playing and coaching for the Wooster Lacrosse Association. His favorite memories include a rematch of the 1988 NCAA Championship between Ohio Wesleyan and Hobart which occurred on his 21st birthday in 1989. He asked his wife, then girlfriend, to go to the game which was in front of a sellout crowd at Shelby Stadium which is now the home of the MLL Ohio Machine. Dan remembers, “The Bishops lost 8-7 on a late goal by the Statemen in an awesome match-up of coaching talent Mike Pressler and Dave Urich.”
Thank you Dan for your continued hard work and dedication to Grow The Game. Hopefully you get to enjoy that Buffalo Wild Wings stop with your staff after many more successful trips back from your away games in Las Vegas.
Photo courtesy of Shawn Kolu (RR)
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