Club hopes to start by developing skills
One day, Mark David Sherron heard a bunch of cheering from a field not too far from his home in the Houston area.
A few years later, Baytown Stingrays Lacrosse was born.
First known as the Greater Baytown Lacrosse Association, the Stingrays now fall under Baytown Optimist Youth Lacrosse,
It all began when Sherron and his now ex-wife, heard a ruckus from the nearby field in 2016 and decided to drive over to see what the commotion was about.
It was a lacrosse game.
“We drove over there and the stands were packed,” Sherron said. “They were scoring left and right.”
So Sherron immediately fell in love with the game and preceded to build what is now Baytown Stingrays Lacrosse.
“I am either watching it or recording it,” Sherron said. “It’s a beautiful sport. It combines hockey, basketball and football. It’s something that schools in Houston are going to.”
Sherron, following his divorce, moved back to his hometown of Baytown after living in Las Vegas and Houston, and immediately got to work on creating a new club sport.
The club hopes to serve players who reside from Baytown, Mont Belvieu, Anahuac, Dayton, Channelview, Galena Park, Deer Park and La Porte school districts while private schools and academy students are also welcomed.
The goal is for the sport, one of the fastest growing in the nation, to take hold in the Baytown area.
Sherron said Goose Creek CISD athletic director Dr. Bernie Mulvaney told him that the University Interscholastic League is considering lacrosse as a potential future sanctioned sport.
The hope is that the Stingrays work with kids in grades two through eight and if and when the UIL sanctions the sport, the high schools will have players ready to engage lacrosse at that level.
By next spring, he expects to have fifth-and-sixth and seventh-and-eighth grade travel teams to play against teams such as Kingwood, Pearland, Atascocita and Clear Lake. Before that, he hopes to get practices going by the end of the summer. There could also be high school-aged teams eventually put in place.
Younger kids would be primarily taught the game only.
“As Bernie told me, ‘You are my Little League for lacrosse,’” Sherron said. “We would train the kids: Fouls, offense, the movements. We would develop them and then pass the torch.”
Mulvaney said that Sherron’s plans are one the district fully supports.
“From an athletic standpoint, we are always happy kids are engaged in any activity and endeavor,” Mulvaney said. “From a high school perspective, until lacrosse blows up big, we won’t do anything at that level. We have a way to go from a UIL perspective. If the UIL adds anything first they would add water polo because there are more schools playing it. The UIL wants at least 250 teams in a division to play a sport. If the UIL will do anything with lacrosse, it would be in about 20 years, where water polo, we are looking at five maybe.”
Still, despite the potential length of time before lacrosse gets sanctioned in Texas, Mulvaney hopes the best for Sherron.
“I think it is absolutely a worthy endeavor,” Mulvaney said. “It is an uphill battle for Mark because our demographics isn’t The Woodlands, Kingwood and Clear Lake. Parents are looking for alternatives to football and lacrosse is one of those alternatives. In Texas, there aren’t enough people playing it. This is a football state.”
Sherron said that the City of Baytown has given the team a field to practice off of Village Lane, but he hopes to buy land to build a lacrosse-specific facility.
The one thing Sherron cites is that many of the refineries hire people from lacrosse-playing states on the East coast and in the upper Midwest. That would give him potentially a player pool that the Stingrays could draw from.
One of which was Austin Hughes, a former player from Maryland, who has helped the Stingrays with the teaching of the sport.
Hughes currently has worked for Exxon Mobil at the Mont Belvieu plastics plant for most of the past 18 months while still currently a student at the University of Maryland.
“Where I’m from lacrosse is a very popular sport; they play it as much as football,” Hughes said. “It’s not as popular in the south. I met Mark and he told me he got the Stingrays off the ground. I figured I could help out as a coach since I have playing experience.
“Now we are looking to get some opponents and I am excited about that.”
Hughes said the Stingrays are looking for a league to join after leaving the Greater Houston Area Lacrosse Association after it disbanded.
“We had a few kids that were coming out pretty regularly,” Hughes said. “I feel lacrosse is a good sport to fill that spring sports slot. Lacrosse is a natural transition sport for those guys who play football.
“We just need to get the word out more. I can see it taking off. It’s a great game.”
That’s what Sherron thinks and he wants to get the Baytown-area to embrace it.
“I just want to get the sport going,” Sherron said. “There is no reason why anyone east of the river should be left out.”