West Linn (OR) Builds Powerhouse From Ground Up

By Brett Manney

The West Linn lacrosse program has been a model of consistency since it started from scratch back in 1994. Since then, the program has developed into an Oregon powerhouse, advancing to the Final Four of the state tournament seven times since 1997 and winning state championships in 2000 and 2003. The Lions start their success in the youth program, which filters to the high school--all organized by head coach Mark Flood.

Flood has been the face of Oregon lacrosse, developing the Lions into a state power as well as growing the sport through various youth programs around the Portland area since '94. Most of the players who are on this year's team have been in the youth program started by Flood. The program has grown into a powerhouse despite obstacles such as competing with baseball for talent.

"Baseball is given a lot of attention to in the state," Flood said. "It has been a battle with baseball for athletes but now we are seeing better athletes at a young age playing lacrosse."

With a successful youth program, West Linn has been able to develop players' skills at a young age--which translates into talented players at the high school level. The growth at the youth level is continuing to rise with middle school teams and even a select team coached by Flood. The result has been evident, as the Lions will be seeking their third state title in 15 years this spring.

It was in 1994 when the West Linn lacrosse program was founded as a club sport, and it took 14 years before the school officially considered it a sport in 2008. There are only a few teams in the state which are fully funded by the schools, such as Oregon Episcopal and Jesuit. Despite not having lacrosse recognized as a sport, Flood predicts the sports will be state sanctioned soon. The current economic crisis the country is part of the reason why officials did not push to have it sanctioned this year.

The 2009 West Linn squad is stocked with players who have been playing lacrosse for years in the organization founded by Flood. After only graduating two defenseman and two midfielders from last year, the expectations are high for the Lions in 2009.

"The goal is the Final Four every year. I feel we are stronger than last year" Flood said.

The squad is currently 3-2 and should continue to grow despite their early season losses to Mercer Island (PR: 95.1) and tough state power Lincoln (PR: 95.1). The mightiest task might lie ahead for the Lions when they clash against Oregon Episcopal (PR: 94.9) on April 11. Yet Flood thinks if the Lions can stay focused and compete for four quarters, they will succeed.

Recently Flood was honored before a Portland Lumberjax game for his dedication to growing lacrosse in the state of Oregon. The Lions have reaped the benefits of Flood's dedication and has become one of the state's elite teams. The youth programs in West Linn continue to cultivate, and the Lions should continue to add to their legacy.


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