When it was all said and done, the Peninsula School District’s inaugural season of the girls’ lacrosse program went pretty well.
The program, which was previously operated by Gig Harbor Lacrosse, was taken over by the the district and officially offered as a school district sport this spring.
Official PSD jerseys, a 10-2 record, a great time had by all involved.
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The PSD team was made up of 22 girls, from both Peninsula and Gig Harbor high schools.
“It was the best high school season I’ve ever had,” said Gig Harbor High junior Mikaila Samsen, who scored 32 goals for the squad. “We just had a great deal of support from everyone around us, the community, the school district. We’ve never really had that. We’ve kind of had a ‘fend for yourself’ attitude. We did a lot better than I think we expected.”
Teammate Sarah Sisney, a middie, noticed the community support as well.
“Just the knowledge of our school backing us, inspired a little more motivation and heart,” Sisney said. “Hearing school announcements in the morning about our team after a big win, that was really great. It motivated us to do better.”
Josh Hanaan, Gig Harbor Lacrosse president, served as an assistant coach on the team. Mark Frank served as the head coach, while Hannah Pease served as an assistant and is in line to take over the head coaching duties next year. Kirk Lent and Steve Sisney also served as assistant coaches. Despite not being as familiar with the rules of girls’ lacrosse as the boys’ game, Hanaan said he thoroughly enjoyed himself.
“I was a bit of an outsider,” Hanaan said. “It was probably the best coaching experience I’ve had. They really grew as a team. I was incredibly impressed with the way that they would take in the information, constructive criticism and adapt to it. They were able to adjust at halftime in games in ways that their male counterparts don’t do. The leadership on the team, our two team captains (Samsen and Sisney) really complemented one another and did an excellent job of leading.”
The PSD team played in the Peninsula Conference, which included Klahowya, Bellarmine, Evergreen, Stadium and Curtis. PSD came in third place in its inaugural season and finished with a 10-2 record, but missed out on the playoffs.
“(Mark Frank) was in the Air Force and Steve Sisney was in the Navy,” Samsen said. “They brought a lot of toughness to our team with their military background. They definitely brought a ‘No-complaints, We-don’t-give-a-crap-if-you’re-tired’ attitude, which pushed us to work harder and keep pushing.”
Frank said the coaching staff actually borrowed a play from the Navy lacrosse team.
“We had some fun with the military stuff,” Frank said.
As part of growing the program and trying to be good stewards in the community, the team spent an entire Saturday one weekend in the season cleaning the flower boxes and both Gig Harbor and Peninsula high schools.
“That was really fun — we just did it as a thank-you to the school district for the chance to play for them,” Sisney said. “We just wanted to say thank you for the uniforms and things like that. We took out all the weeds and replaced it with some nice bark and trees that were donated to us. We had a fun time listening to music and bonding.”
Frank was proud of the girls’ efforts with community service.
“We really tried to instill, making the most of opportunities and being thankful and grateful,” Frank said. “Just trying to be grateful for the opportunity and give back to the district and be good citizens.”
The program hopes to keep growing, and add a JV team, hopefully as soon as next year. The logical next step, in the future, would be to split into separate programs for Gig Harbor and Peninsula high schools. But that big of a leap seems unlikely in the near future.
“I don’t see that happening any time soon,” said Hanaan, who is stepping aside from his post as Gig Harbor Lacrosse president to let someone else have a turn. “My whole goal as president has been to gradually grow things. We all want progress fast and want to be the best as fast as possible. … For the girls team, I’d really like to see the foundation be really strong, continue to grow and then, yes, have a feeder that goes into both high schools and is extremely successful. But the worst thing to do is to split too early and have it fall apart, or not be competitive.”
The PSD squad returns the bulk of its players next season, and expects to be competitive once again.
“The girls playing now are incredible athletes,” Samsen said.
Sisney’s sales pitch to those interested in trying the sport? Jump in.
“We’re a really close-knit team,” she said. “We consider each other family. You’ll have 22 new friends and develop an amazing skillset. You really learn about what it’s like to be a part of a family-like team.”