South Carroll's Jessie Buppert could have coasted after the Cavaliers captured the Carroll County and Class 3A-4A West region titles last season.
North Carroll's Donny Kincaid could have forgotten a disappointing 0-13 season and joined his friends for a summer in Ocean City.
But both chose to give up any thoughts of relaxing pool-side and signed up for summer and weekend lacrosse camps and leagues.
"I want to hang out, but for me personally, I have a good time playing lacrosse," said Buppert, a junior attacker who tallied 20 goals and had 30 assists last year. "Whenever I get together with my friends, we always bring our sticks."
Asked what his reply is to friends who want him to skip a league game, Kincaid, a senior midfielder, said, "I just tell them I'm busy with lacrosse. It doesn't bother me at all, [because] I enjoy playing lacrosse more."
Buppert and Kincaid are just a couple examples of a growing pool of high school lacrosse players in Carroll County who aren't content to mothball their sticks for nine months until the next spring season.
Instead, they illustrate a seemingly ravenous desire among the athletes to participate in year-round programs during what is supposed to be their off-seasons.
It remains to be seen whether the off-season preparation will pay off when all five county high schools begin their lacrosse seasons next week. But some coaches said they have already witnessed positive results during practices and scrimmages.
"The biggest thing I see is a sense of togetherness," North Carroll coach David Dodson said of the more than a dozen players who participated in off-season programs. "You can see this bond between them. They really care about each other."
It shouldn't be surprising that more players are becoming involved in summer and fall leagues. As the popularity of lacrosse explodes in the county, programs such as the fall and winter indoor leagues at the Super Sports Inc. facility in Sykesville and the Overlea Fall League are there to meet the demand.
Mark Hughes, president and owner of Super Sports, said his fall and winter leagues each had waiting lists and were filled with players from about 30 high schools in Carroll, Howard and Frederick counties.
"There's a big interest level out there," said Hughes, who is also a referee for the Southern Lacrosse Officials Association. "We've also had representatives from 26 girls lacrosse teams here."
What is startling is the acknowledgment that many of the players are joining the camps without much prodding from their coaches.
Westminster coach Jim Peters estimated that about 90 percent of his varsity and JV squads participated in leagues last summer and fall without so much as a word of encouragement from him.
"A lot of my kids played football and soccer during the week and lacrosse during the weekend," Peters marveled. "You can easily pick the kids who spent their time banging a ball against a wall and those who didn't."
South Carroll coach Jeff Alisauckas said his players can participate without having a coach monitor their mistakes.
"In that setting, there's no pressure on the coach," he said. "Wins and losses don't matter there. They can have fun."
And players don't have to be of a certain standard to join a program. Even players such as All-County defender Josh Ries need the time to hone their skills.
"It's been nine years of playing lacrosse for me, and I still have fun getting out there and learning new things," said Ries, who attended the Loch Raven Summer Camp at Calvert Hall College and the Top 205 Lacrosse Camp at Loyola College. "It's for the love of the game."
But when do you take vacation?
"There's a week or two between the end of the season and the start of summer camps," said Ries, a senior. "That's when you take your break."
Pub Date: 3/19/99