TAMPA — As lacrosse continues to grow throughout the South, Jesuit High School is in the forefront.
It isn’t easy to get players for a sport that has largely been ignored for years in this part of the country. It is typically a game that is popular in the Northeast and is sometimes considered an elitist sport, but times are changing. Lacrosse has made headway into Florida and, if Florida State University starts a varsity program as has been rumored, it could explode into the state. The University of Florida women’s program has been active for only four years, and already has spent time as the top-rated team in the country.
West Central Florida has been a step behind the growth in lacrosse. While Central Florida, South Florida and Northeast Florida have several high-profile programs, West Central Florida has fallen behind, but now it is a varsity sport and Tampa Bay area teams are now eligible for a spot in the Florida High School Athletic Association playoffs. But the Tampa region is catching up.
Jesuit took a major step toward building up Tampa Bay lacrosse with the recent hiring of its new coach, Brian Lemon. Jesuit was 14-7 last season, and has two straight district titles, but is ready to take it to the next level.
“We are extremely excited to have Coach Lemon leading Jesuit lacrosse in its quest to become one of the premier programs in Florida,” said Terry Rupp, Jesuit athletic director.
“His background and ability make him an excellent fit for this position. He has an understanding of the mission of Jesuit High School, and the experience and expertise to elevate our lacrosse program,” he added.
Lemon has plenty of experience. He has been the vice president of operations at the National Lacrosse League for 10 years. He also was founder and coaching director of the FishHawk Coyotes club lacrosse program for four years.
He played in the NLL for eight seasons in Baltimore, Detroit and Rochester, N.Y., and is looking forward to bringing the game to Tampa.
“I am thrilled at the opportunity to coach Jesuit lacrosse,” said Lemon, a native of Canada who moved to Lithia with his family in 2003.
“Jesuit has a tremendous tradition of success in so many areas, and we hope to take the burgeoning lacrosse program to great heights as well.”