Wins coming quicker than expected for first-year lacrosse program at Mars
By Joe Sager
Published: Saturday, April 20, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Mars has one of the WPIAL's newest boys varsity lacrosse programs.
The Planets, however, are not performing like a first-year team.
Mars has experienced success in its inaugural year participating at the high school level and went 3-2 in its first five games.
“The confidence, overall, is good. They are starting to get a feel for what they need to do,” Mars coach Justin Karam said.
“They are just right above where they need to be. Once it clicks, they're going have a tremendous upside.”
The Planets have 32 players on their roster, 20 of whom are freshmen.
That can be a problem, at times, because teams with older players might have more experience or a physical advantage. However, the squad sees it as a positive.
“Things are getting better every day. This season, we try not to measure our success on wins and losses, but improvement,” Karam said.
“We have to make sure we're building the right way and getting things done and learning how the game needs to be played.”
Mars has an advantage over most first-year teams.
The Mars Youth Lacrosse Association has been in existence for a handful of years and has given younger players a chance to learn fundamentals.
“That's a big thing. Playing lacrosse is a lot harder than it looks. It's tough to just jump right in against good competition,” Karam said.
“We are ahead of the curve now. Most teams that start programs don't have that youth program backing behind them. Stick skills are the first thing players need to develop. We're fortunate our guys have those and can work on more advanced things like game play and tactics.”
Mars is one of four new varsity boys lacrosse teams in the WPIAL, joining Moon, Aquinas Academy and Gateway.
The Planets are in Division 2, Section 3 with North Hills, Quaker Valley, Shaler, Vincentian and Aquinas Academy.
Three teams from each Division 2 section qualify for the WPIAL playoffs.
“When we've played within our division, we have been playing well,” Karam said.
“If we play well enough, making the playoffs is a possibility. Right now, I would say we're a little bit ahead of expectations.”
Karam, a 2005 Butler High School graduate, served as Butler's junior varsity coach the past two years.
“It's probably the first time the person coaching them hasn't been a parent or a parent of a player in the Mars youth program,” he said.
“Vince Grieco and Bob Marcoux did a great job coaching in the youth program. Both had college lacrosse experience, and that helped.
“It's different because this is the first time they're being coached by someone outside of the youth program. Plus, I am 26. I am older than these guys, but not old enough to be a parent. In the back of my mind, I sometimes worry that could be an issue.”
A substitute teacher, Karam got to know some of the players from having them in class. Also, he coached some of them over the summer in a youth lacrosse league.
Karam was appointed head coach in February, so he had little time to get the Planets ready for the season. He plans on instituting a full offseason plan this year.
“We had six conditioning sessions indoors before we got to go outside and practice. That definitely was not a lot, but it was better than nothing,” Karam said.
“At the same time, this year was just about getting everything set up and ready to go. Most of the other schools have had some sort of offseason program.
“Butler has a summer program for players to lift and a conditioning session all winter. They have optional practices in the fall and winter conditioning starting in January. It would help us tremendously if we could do that. We'll have those advantages next year.”
The Planets' large roster also allows them to play a junior varsity schedule, which helps the players' development.
“You can only have 10 play at a time, so if we have the same 20 freshmen three years from now, we'll have 20 guys who will know what to expect and how we coach and how we want to play. That's awesome,” Karam said.
“These guys are competitors. They are going to be getting after it. They do know the future is bright, but they want the future to be tomorrow. They want to win now.”
Joe Sager is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates sign free agent pitcher Volquez
- Pirates make inquiry into former Cy Young winner Johan Santana
- McCutchen proposes to girlfriend on DeGeneres show
- Police: Driver fell unconscious before Seton Hill bus crash
- Trafford police arrest woman selling drugs for `shopping money’
- Allegheny County budget committee OKs capital budget but no money for August Wilson Center
- First Niagara Bank in West End robbed
- Starkey: NHL stuck in stone age
- Pirates sign Morton to 3-year extension
- Steelers defense’s rapid decline looks similar to that of Steel Curtain’s
- Latrobe police install drug take-back box