This year marks the first season for the Bellingham Warriors high school girls’ lacrosse team as a varsity team. The Warriors are currently 2-4 at the halfway mark of the season, but more important to coach Kate Noyer is the excitement the team is experiencing at the varsity level.
“This year has been really exciting for the girls,” Noyer said in a phone interview. “They are all trying to learn what it means to be a varsity team.”
The Bellingham Warriors’ girls’ lacrosse program is in its fourth year. Last season, the team played at the junior varsity level and saw enough success to make the leap to the varsity level. The players on the team have been playing in the program since the first year the girls’ program formed. Most players on the team have been playing together on the seventh- and eighth-grade team, as well as the fifth- and sixth- grade team.
“Freshmen know the juniors and seniors because they’ve all been playing at the younger level,” Noyer said. “It’s fun for us to get into the program and see what it means to be a varsity team, and what that means for our team dynamic.”
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The Warriors are led by Tarryn Brands, the only senior in the program, who started playing lacrosse two years ago.
“We have such a young team. They really look up to her,” Noyer said. “She’s always a person providing positive energy. They look up to her as a role model because she is the only senior on the team and is a great leader for them.”
For Brands, being on a varsity team has been different, but she has enjoyed the change.
“We’re playing a lot better together and are taking the sport more seriously at the varsity level,” Brands said, “which will help in the long run.”
Last season, Brands was the only junior on the team, which only had one senior as well. As one of the only older players since she started playing, Brands has became used to being a leader on the team, she said.
Brands has been around the sport of lacrosse for awhile — her brother played it as well. When she came across the Bellingham Warriors she didn’t hesitate to join.
“When I learned there was a team, I wanted to get on it,” Brands said.
One thing that stood out to Brands is that there are a lot of freshman on the team who have been playing for at least five years, proving lacrosse is becoming a more popular sport for girls to play at a young age.
Having moved here from Massachusetts a mere year and a half ago, Noyer’s goal is for Lacrosse to become a prominent sport for high school girls’ to play in Whatcom County. This year the Bellingham Warriors started a third- and fourth-grade team, beginning the process of having a way for girls’ to get involved in the sport at a young age.
“The ultimate goal is to build it so it’s as big as other sports,” Noyer said. “Most techniques from other sports cross over into lacrosse. We have a lot of crossover athletes.”
On the East Coast, Noyer said Lacrosse is already an established sport for girls to play at the high school and collegiate levels. Having lacrosse as an option in the area allows girls another sport to play competitively.
But currently, the Warriors have to travel two to three hours for a game. The goal is for more teams to be formed to lessen that burden.
“Our last game we won was three hours away,” Brands said, “I remember saying to the girls ‘We didn’t come this far to lose’, which was exciting because we turned it around and won the game.”
Noyer is already seeing progress in building girls’ lacrosse in Bellingham and is happy to have stumbled upon the Warriors shortly after moving into the area.
“I’ve been really lucky to be a part of it. I didn’t realize how involved everyone is in the program,” she said. “Parents are involved so much in driving players back and forth. It’s like a big family; that is important for me and a blessing. My family is all back east and its nice to be excited for the culture and the team.”
The Bellingham Warriors next event will be Warrior Night on Saturday, April 17, at Civic Stadium. The Warriors high school boys’ varsity and junior varsity will face off. The girls’ seventh- and eighth-grade team will then scrimmage against the high school team during halftime.
“It’s a fun opportunity to get the community involved and everyone in the program involved,” Noyer said.