Coach: Time for a celly! Lacrosse is finding a home in Deerfield

  • Glenbrook North alum Robert Allen is now the head coach of varsity lacrosse at Deerfield High School.

    Glenbrook North alum Robert Allen is now the head coach of varsity lacrosse at Deerfield High School. Courtesy of Jon Cohn

  • Jon Cohn

    Jon Cohn

 
 
Updated 4/21/2022 9:52 AM

OK, maybe the sport of lacrosse in Deerfield was a little late to the party when it comes to popularity in this area, but things are changing. Now, they are not only invited to the party, but they are starting to make some noise and even threatening to become the life of the party.

"Yeah, it took awhile for it to catch on here in Deerfield," said Warrior head coach Robert Allen, who also is a coordinating member of the Deerfield Youth Lacrosse Club, "To be honest, we might have been lagging behind some of the other north suburban communities when it comes to this sport, but that is changing rapidly."

 

Indeed, it is.

The high school boys program at Deerfield is on the upswing -- previously, the girls program had better participation -- with varsity, JV and now frosh-soph teams competing; the youth program is seeing almost exponential growth, with two girls teams and four boys teams.

A big part of the resurgence comes on the back of Coach Allen, who is in now in his fifth year as head boys coach for the high school.

Allen has a long history in the sport, even though he is still a pretty young guy. He played at nearby Glenbrook North High School, where he was a 2008 graduate, competing for current Spartan coach Justin Georgakakis. He then went on to play at Carthage College in Wisconsin, served as an assistant coach at Glenbrook North and also at Glenbrook South under Will Jeffrey, before getting the head varsity job, and his own program, here at Deerfield.

"I had great mentorship," says Allen, "Playing under Coach Georgakakis, and then coaching with him and also with Will Jeffrey. I picked up a lot of knowledge from both of them, as well as a real love for the game."

Allen took his passion for the game and all his experience and now is using it to help right the ship and turn around the on-the-upswing Warrior boys lacrosse program.

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"Deerfield has always been kind of near the bottom in the Central Suburban League when it comes to boys lacrosse," he says, "but we are working hard to try and change that."

This year it's so far, so good in that category.

As of this writing, the Warrior contingent has a winning record of 5-3 -- and they are just beginning to click.

"We have a group of seniors leading us now that have been in the program for four years," coach says. "They know our philosophy and they know our style of play and they are really committed."

Senior stars and four year veterans include Ethan Blacher, Nathan Goss, Jeffrey Battle, Matthew Paley, Ryan Busscher, Tyler Pontikes, Roni Ebenezer, and Tanooi Mitra.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"The best thing about this group," says Coach Allen, "is that they really care about growing the sport of lacrosse. They love the game and they want to pass that love on to the younger kids, so much so, that they even help out in the youth program coaching some of the grade school teams."

Speaking of the youth program, that is where the boom is really happening.

The Deerfield Youth Lacrosse Club has become a big factor in the sport's development.

Started and formed by Dr. Joshua Tepper, the program began as part of the Deerfield Park District but has since moved on to become an independently operated program for boys and girls in first through eighth grades. DYLC offers summer camps, clinics and competitive off-season travel teams.

Coach Allen not only joined the organization, he helps to run it, working closely with the youth group to give the community some natural connection with the high school program.

"Couldn't be more pleased on how our high school administration has worked with the youth program, "says coach. "They help us with indoor facilities, and they have been beyond supportive of what we are trying to do"

So there you have it. The future looks bright for Deerfield Lacrosse. The sport gaining popularity at a rapid pace, as it has in many of the nearby surrounding towns. The Warriors high school team this year will look to make a dent in the standings in the CSL conference, and maybe even make a little "good noise" come state playoff time.

Oh, and speaking of that future? Watch out. The current crop of eighth-graders, soon to join the Deerfield High School program, might be the best yet.

"They are really, really good, and we are looking forward to welcoming them to the high school," says Coach Allen. I was talking to him on the phone when he made that comment, but I could "feel" him smiling on the other end of the line.

Yes, the present is looking good for Deerfield boys lacrosse, and the future may be even brighter.

• Jon Cohn of Glenview is a coach, retired PE teacher, sports official and prep sports fan. To contact him with comments or story ideas, email jcsportsandtees@aol.com.

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