Shaler boys lacrosse joins forces with Pitt club for development camp
Thursday, August 8, 2019 | 11:43 PM
Growing the game is a major focus for the lacrosse community. Fostering relationships and building the sport in Western Pennsylvania has led the Shaler Area lacrosse boosters to be creative.
The Titans held a camp in conjunction with Pitt’s club team coach, Zach Wilfong. Pitt does not field a varsity men’s program but will add a women’s program for the 2021-22 school year.
Shaler’s camp drew 67 players from 13 school districts, including Butler, Hampton, Highlands, Mars, Mt. Lebanon, North Allegheny, North Hills, Penn-Trafford, Pine-Richland and Seneca Valley.
“They were able to show them tips and tricks to help their development,” Titans coach Bill Wightman said. “The kids saw different techniques than what I show them. Those guys are playing a different level, playing against big clubs from Michigan and Boston College. Those are things they can use against the better schools.”
Jason Fedorek, president of the Shaler Area boys lacrosse club, said the relationship between Pitt’s team and Shaler has been developing for some time.
“Last year, we hosted the Backyard Brawl between Pitt and West Virginia at Titan Stadium after a varsity game,” Fedorek said. “I got to talking to the coach, and he’s all about trying to promote and grow the sport in this area. I was looking for a way to get our boys more touches with the stick and bring in some extra coaching to help improve the program.”
Shaler had a connection with Pitt through alum Zach Romac, who plays for the Panthers. Rising Shaler senior Andrew Demchsin appreciated the atmosphere.
Smaller numbers than other camps allowed Demchsin get more individual attention.
“They were focusing on things you need to get better at,” said Demchsin, who plays attack. “When I was at bigger camps, they were focusing on things for everyone to get better at. They would spend time explaining defense when it didn’t benefit me as much on offense.”
The WPIAL started sponsoring lacrosse in the early 2000s, contesting the first girls championships in ’04 and boys in ’09.
There are 368 NCAA men’s lacrosse programs compared to 499 women’s programs.
Demchsin would love an opportunity to play in college and used the camp to add skills.
“I mainly play the X, which is basically the quarterback position,” Demchsin said. “I need to get better at keeping my head up when the defender comes in, get away and keep my eyes up the field.”
Wightman was pleased with how everything went at the camp.
“The biggest thing for younger players is working with the high school team is neat for them,” Wightman said. “It’s not just a coach, it’s someone who is older than them, and it’s the same aspect here. The kids from college who came back and helped are only a few years older than the high school guys. It’s a motivating factor that there is lacrosse after high school.”