Texas, a place where every autumn Friday during football season is considered a work of God and all other sports serve as mere filler time until the next September rolls around, has become an unlikely hotbed for lacrosse recruits, and the women’s lacrosse team has capitalized on it, with four Texan players on its roster.
The most recent addition to the Texan contingent is Lyndsey Lafitte, a freshman defender/midfielder from Houston, Texas, who joins fellow Houstonian senior midfielder Jess Carroll, and senior midfielder Haydyn Anigian and redshirt sophomore attacker/midfielder Maggie Fobare, each of whom hail from Dallas.
Assistant coach Danielle Spencer, who said she recruits in Texas and prioritizes watching Texan teams in national tournaments, said she thinks it’s a state on the rise in terms of lacrosse talent.
“Texas is a huge state, and sports have always been big there,” Spencer said. “So I think it’s a natural thing that a new sport that’s growing across the country would grow fast in Texas because it’s just such a fun sport to play and the foundation for women’s sports is already there. It’s a major talent pool.”
Lafitte said she’s not surprised that Texan players have become more popular among college recruiters, and that she thinks the average level of competition in Texas is starting to match that of the more traditional lacrosse states in the Northeast, a feat she said she attributes to girls starting to join lacrosse programs at a younger age.
“People from Texas grow up playing all the different kinds of sports, so I feel like we bring a certain level of athleticism and running,” Lafitte said. “I feel like that’s what a lot of college coaches like about us – we run and have a lot of good vibes. With more and more club teams coming up, the level [of play] is definitely picking up.”
In contrast to states up North where players usually need access to indoor facilities to play during the winter, Spencer said players in southern states are able to get outside easier and spend more time practicing, which allows them to develop faster.
Head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller and her staff have taken notice, recruiting more from southern states, namely Texas. Spencer said that even though Northwestern was kind of on the forefront of this recruiting trend, the rest of the college lacrosse community has begun to follow suit.
“I don’t think it’s a secret any longer, it’s gaining a reputation,” Spencer said. “Coaches know that they’re going to find good players in Texas now. A couple years ago, it was a different story, but now the precedent has been set with some of our players and some other very good players on some other top Division 1 teams, so now coaches are aware.”
Lafitte said that even though lacrosse is becoming more popular in Texas, she has still encountered people asking her to explain her sport to them. She said that since lacrosse hasn’t achieved ubiquity yet (as it has in states like New York), characteristic of any proud Texan, she plays on behalf of her home state.
“There’s not that many people [from Texas] that have gone on to play in college so far,” Lafitte said. “So I do feel like I represent Texas when I’m out here.”