The leadership of the Fallbrook Warrior Lacrosse Club believes that the eventual way for Fallbrook to become competitive with other lacrosse programs is to start at early levels. The success this year of Fallbrook’s Division 3 team is helping to accomplish that goal.
Coronado is a perennial lacrosse power, but when the Coronado team traveled to Fallbrook for an April 12 match the Warriors captured a 10-2 victory.
“It was a close game initially. They were actually the first team to score on us first,” said Fallbrook coach Don McCormies.
“They came out and got two goals on us right away,” McCormies said. “We’ve never played from behind.”
The Warriors showed their comeback ability, taking a 3-2 lead by the end of the first period before also accounting for the remainder of the scoring.
The win gave Fallbrook a 6-0 record and made the Warriors one of three teams sharing first place in the San Diego County Lacrosse Association standings. “We’ve had a run so far,” McCormies said. “I think this is probably the best start we’ve had in years.”
The local association has 40 Division 3 teams. “We’re competing very well right now within our division,” McCormies said.
“Lacrosse has really kind of blown up in Southern California,” McCormies said. “It’s really gained a lot of popularity over the last couple of years.”
Fallbrook’s season opened March 9 with a 16-1 win at Valley Center. The Warriors’ first home match of the season March 15 ended as an 8-1 victory over Point Loma. A March 22 trip to San Marcos produced an 11-4 score in Fallbrook’s favor, and the March 29 game at Rancho Bernardo was a 10-4 Warrior triumph. The Warriors returned home for an April 8 match against Oceanside and were on the favorable end of the 12-2 final score.
“We’re happy that we’re winning,” McCormies said.
“We don’t preach winning. We’re not a win-at-all-costs program,” McCormies said. “We’re here to build character and we’re here to build young men and teach them values and life lessons.”
The team is actually co-ed and has one girl along with 18 boys. The Fallbrook club has 16 actual players who are in fifth and sixth grades. Third-grade and fourth-grade students who practice and work out with the team enhance the total roster to 19 players.
“We’re really about helping the kids grow,” McCormies said. “It’s about teaching passion and teaching responsibility, dedication.”
Skill development derives from such an mentality. “It’s all about an attitude. It’s all about a state of mind,” McCormies said.
“It’s a mindset,” McCormies said. “We’re plugged in. We’re all in.”
Such a mentality should also assist the players in other endeavors, but the lacrosse team is also a beneficiary. “That’s what’s helping to propel us because we have a mission, we have a vision of what we’re trying to do,” McCormies said. “The wins will come.”
McCormies grew up in Palm Springs and played high school baseball. His involvement in lacrosse began last year when his son joined the Division 3 team. “I was really just more of an excited dad,” he said.
McCormies also took photos for the team. “I just kind of got to watch through the lens of the camera,” he said.
Frank Rotunda coached last year’s team. “Being around him was a lot of fun,” McCormies said.
Rotunda retired after last season, as did Division 1 coach Chaz Mudie. “They both kind of left big shoes to fill and a big void in the program,” McCormies said. “There was really no one else to coach.”
McCormies had experience coaching Pop Warner Football; in 2013 he was an assistant coach for the Junior Midget team whose head coach was J.C. Calloway. McCormies agreed to become a lacrosse coach. “The first thing I did was call J.C.,” he said.
Calloway was willing to join the lacrosse coaching staff. Juan Chesus has a son on the lacrosse team. Chesus and another son, Ty, also offered to help coach. “They’ve been a phenomenal asset to the overall program,” McCormies said. “They have such great lacrosse knowledge.”
The presence of McCormies and Calloway led to participation in the lacrosse program by youth football players. “It kind of helps the growth of lacrosse by being able to tap into the football kids,” McCormies said. “Any time you have more kids you have more talent.”
The similarities between football and lacrosse enhanced the ability of the players to master lacrosse skills. “Lacrosse is a physical sport and so is football,” McCormies said. “Because of athleticism we’re able to compete at a high level.”
Football and lacrosse both also involve footwork, and conditioning is important for both. “We’ve been able to take advantage of that synergy between the two programs,” McCormies said.
The attraction of additional football players gives the team depth while the return of core players gives the players experience with each other. “The boys have kind of played together for two years now,” McCormies said.
“We have a really good group of kids and parents,” McCormies said. “I think I’m very blessed to be put in this position.”