Gig Harbor High School boys lacrosse coach Marc Kemp figured if he could get 10 people to show up for an alumni game over the holiday break, it would be a success.
So when around 20 people showed up to the Gig Harbor High School field on Saturday, Dec. 22, from Gig Harbor’s program and the previously named “Harbor Fire” lacrosse program, he was pleasantly surprised.
“This is the first time we’ve done it,” Kemp said. “It was a rag-tag effort.”
Kemp, who attended UC Santa Barbara in the 1980s, has been part of the annual alumni game at his alma mater for years.
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“It just kind of struck me last season that we’ve been doing this long enough now, we’re in our 11th year, we finally have some kids that have gone through our program, guys that are still playing lacrosse in college, guys that have graduated,” Kemp said. “So I just thought it’d be cool to get them all together.”
Originally, the high school teams from Peninsula and Gig Harbor high schools played on a combined team under the “Harbor Fire” moniker. The program eventually grew large enough to where both high schools could support their own teams, splitting in 2014.
While the majority of the players in the game were recent grads, there were a few “older” ones. Cody Olson, Rick Reel and Joey Queenin, who were all part of the original Harbor Fire program, are 25 years old and played in the game.
“Two of them are engaged now, but surprisingly, they still looked good,” Kemp said. “Ricky had some moves, scored a goal or two. They looked good.”
The game had a loose format, with no fouls and mixing and matching teams. More than anything, it was a chance to reconnect.
“It was just a chance to get guys back together on the field and relive some of the old glories,” Kemp said. “We had some parents and former players show up that I hadn’t seen in a while.”
Some players from the Peninsula program showed up as well, including current University of Washington players Jackson Reid and Cameron Lewis. Eventually, the desire is to grow the game to a point where it will be Gig Harbor versus Peninsula.
“All things are possible,” Kemp said. “The Peninsula guys were talking about that. One of the nice things about the game on Saturday, there wasn’t that division. It was very inclusive. Even though some of the guys didn’t play for me in high school, those guys came through our youth program.”
Kemp said he’s proud of the program’s growth over the years, making the inaugural alumni game this year possible.
“It’s really gratifying,” he said. “We get kind of caught up with starting a new team every year. So it’s a nice way to reflect on what we’ve built over the years. I didn’t have a lot of expectation. I thought if we got 10 to show up, that’d be great. To have about 20 guys show up, it was really special.”