Watch out East Coast: San Francisco lacrosse is nipping at your heels.
Braden Edwards is a co-founder of the San Francisco Lacrosse League. The University High School lacrosse coach has lost neither his Pennsylvanian accent nor his passion for the sport.
“Lacrosse has been a big part of my life and has helped me get to where I am today,” Edwards said. “I like to afford some of my experiences to the younger generation.”
The SFLL winter season kicked off Dec. 6.
The coaches assigned 25-30 players to each of the eight teams. The young lacrosse players come from across the Bay Area to play, although the majority of the kids are from Marin County and San Francisco.
“One of the ideas is to foster new relationships and friendships. It’s a very fraternal sport, and the idea is to integrate kids from various high school programs in order to promote sportsmanship,” Edwards said.
The resident of The City’s Richmond district rises at 3:30 a.m. and reports to his day job as an equity trader between 4 and 5 a.m. The 43-year-old father of three leads University’s practice with co-coach Nick Lockwood from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., comes home in time to read stories to his kids and is in bed by 9. His wife, Carolyn, an athlete who played tennis for Union College in New York, is supportive of her husband’s busy schedule.
A four-year player at Gettysburg College, Edwards continued to play lacrosse on club teams for 10 years after he graduated in 1990. His two co-founders of the SFLL, Lockwood and Matt Mesa, were both naval cadets and lacrosse stars at the U.S. Naval Academy.
Edwards emphasizes the importance for San Francisco, an emerging lacrosse market, to continue to attract experienced coaches from the Atlantic seaboard. Three years ago, the SFLL’s summer league consisted of 50 kids; this past summer there were 150. The current total of 200-plus kids competing in the winter league is more than double from two years ago.
A number of San Francisco prep stars have traveled east to play collegiate lacrosse.
“Roy Lang from St. Ignatius started at Cornell as a freshman and scored a goal in last year’s national championship game against Syracuse,” Edwards said.
At least three of this season’s SFLL standouts have committed to playing at the next level. Rob Emery, quarterback of the football team and captain of the lacrosse team at St. Ignatius will be a midfielder at the University of Virginia. Kenyon College in Ohio has recruited SI’s Nick Massa and University’s Nick Aliman to play for its team.
The University of Denver, the nearest college with a Division I men’s lacrosse program, recently snagged Princeton’s great coach of 20 years, Bill Tierney.
Edwards sees this as a significant step for West Coast men’s collegiate lacrosse. He said he wouldn’t be surprised to see schools like Stanford fielding Division I lacrosse programs within the next five years.
San Francisco Lacrosse League
Winter season: Senior division (10th-12 grade); junior division (8th-10th grade)
Where: Tamalpais High School, Mill Valley
When: Sundays, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.