Scouting Fox girls lacrosse

  • Hampshire sophomore Sam Devens has worked hard to help grow the number of players on the District 300 co-op girls lacrosse team.

    Hampshire sophomore Sam Devens has worked hard to help grow the number of players on the District 300 co-op girls lacrosse team. Courtesy of Sam Devens

By Gregg Voss
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 3/14/2022 11:41 PM

Let's put it simply. Hampshire sophomore Sam Devens loves the game of lacrosse.

It's so much so that she wants not only her schoolmates to share that passion, but middle school kids as well, because they are the future of the District 300 Co-op girls lacrosse team, consisting of players from Hampshire, Dundee-Crown and Jacobs.


That's why she took it upon herself last fall to approach Hampshire athletic director Mike Sitter to discuss something very important to her.

"I kind of showed up out of nowhere … Can I talk to you about girls lacrosse?" Devens recalled. "I went in, and I was like, We need to grow our sport. I feel like we're not getting it out there. (Can we) put it on the announcements and put posters up?"

That was just the beginning. Sure, she talked up lacrosse with her friends at Hampshire, a handful of whom decided to come out for this spring's team. She also sat with coach Nicole Paukovits for 90 minutes at January's eighth grade transition night, cheering out the sport to soon-to-be incoming freshmen and their parents.

But the real story is how she took it upon herself, along with teammate Kyra Thebault, to arrange an opportunity to present about the sport one day at all of the Hampshire Middle School physical education classes.

She started by getting help from one of her former teachers at the middle school, who said she and Thebault needed permission to come over and present. She subsequently emailed Hampshire High School's dean of students, who referred her to Sitter, and plans rolled from there.

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In other words, she got a day off from her school to talk lacrosse all day at the middle school. Some might consider that a day off, but Devens and Thebault were all business.

"We set it up for every sixth, seventh and eighth grade gym class," she said. "I made a presentation with my Chromebook, the basics of lacrosse. I was a little nervous, but I also had Kyra, and she was my support person."

Today, Hampshire Middle School has a club lacrosse team, and Devens is anticipating an influx of experienced freshmen to join the team that includes this spring's recruits. That's sure to make D300 more formidable next spring, and build on this spring's success after a 6-11 campaign a year ago.

"I was impressed she reached out to the adults alone," Paukovits said. "It's just so nice to see teenagers believe in something so much to approach other kids and say, Let's do this."


Devens isn't the only one working hard to season the D300 program with new recruits.

At Dundee-Crown, Sabrina Barrett, also a sophomore, made it her business in February to reach out to her golf and basketball teammates and students in her phys ed class to interest them in lacrosse. She also attended the school's freshman elective night, and though lacrosse didn't have a table, she worked the crowd.

It paid off. Taken together, about a third of the 28-member D300 team are recruits found by Devens and Barrett.

But Barrett was quick to point out that it's not just getting the new girls on the field with goggles and a stick.

"A big thing I was strong about was making sure they have a positive experience," she said. "I've joined enough sports to know if you're stressed, you're not going to love it. I try to talk to them every day.

"I have not heard any complaints yet, except that we run a lot."

Seaon outlook

Top teams: District 155 Co-op, District 300 Co-op, St. Charles, Huntley.

Top players: Piper LeFevre, District 155 Co-op, senior, midfielder; Lauren Hughes, District 155 Co-op, senior, attack; Kyleigh Higgins, Huntley, senior, midfielder; Allie Ambrogio, Huntley, junior, midfielder; Sam Devens, District 300 Co-op, sophomore, defense; Sophie Slaten, District 300 Co-op, senior, attack; Sami Balara, St. Charles, senior, midfielder; Megan Steffey, St. Charles, senior, goaltender; Maddy Diamond, Geneva, sophomore, midfielder; Gigi Binetti, Geneva, junior, defense; Tess Powers, Rosary, sophomore, midfielder; Eve Gilla, Rosary, junior, midfielder.

Season skinny: Lacrosse is growing in the western suburbs, and for proof, you only need to look at Rosary, which is fielding its first-ever team this spring. Led by coach Matt Gunderson, who came from Huntley, the Royals have a tough schedule, including Geneva, Montini, St. Viator, Nazareth and, of course, Huntley. The team will be led by sophomore midfielder Tess Powers, and Gunderson is planning on success. "We're going to be a brand-new team and no one knows what to expect," he said. "I have a good feeling about these girls. … Sophomore-heavy Geneva will have the services of senior midfielder Kelsey Marschitz and junior attacker Olivia Holmes, both of whom are returning from injuries. "Last year was our rebuilding year," coach Kailey Robbins said. "All the girls rostered on varsity are returners. Last year we struggled for sure, but this year I'm excited for what's to come." … St. Charles will once again be a tough customer, a year after going 12-2 with their only losses to powers York and Benet. An experienced core will be augmented by sophomore defender Mia Hoppes and freshman midfielder Allison Uchill. The team will also host a special event that will result in a funds donation to a local autism awareness foundation. The event was the brainchild of junior Caroline Theis … Huntley coach Joe Domka said that the best story on his team is that the majority of players have played together for four years. "It really allows them to understand how each other plays," he said. "This group of girls for the last four seasons has never gone with a losing record. " That experienced group will be led by senior midfielder Kyleigh Higgins and junior midfielder Allie Ambrogio … The District 155 Co-op team consisting of Crystal Lake South and Central and Cary Grove had a lot of success last year, going 16-4 overall and 6-0 in conference. The bad news for opponents is that the majority of starters are back, including seniors Piper LeFevre (midfielder), Lauren Hughes (attack), Bella LaRocco (goalie) and Lucy Mets (defense). … The District 300 Co-op team, made up of players from Hampshire, Dundee-Crown and Jacobs, went 6-11 overall and 1-4 in league a year ago, but expect that mark to improve with returnees like Hampshire junior midfielder Holland Rutter and Hampshire senior attack Sophie Slaten, along with three freshmen -- Audrey Zimmerman (goalie) and Mackenzie Shimkus (attack) from Dundee-Crown and Mia Garafolo (attack) from Jacobs. … The U46 Co-op, consisting of players from Streamwood, Bartlett, Elgin, Larkin and South Elgin, welcome a new coach in Christina Amato.

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