GRAND BLANC — Three years ago former Grand Blanc varsity boys’ lacrosse coach Trenton Gafner recognized a gap in the development of area athletes and decided to do something about it. That’s why he aligned himself with the Flint Coalition to form the True Lacrosse Army Ants, a trio of travel teams designed to provide year-round competition for middle and high school athletes.
Because this program is designed to work in association with existing prep programs instead of competing against them, player participation is based on individual availability. For example, the summer season is an amalgamation of tournaments that feature whichever students a team has available to them for that event. Players also wear their prep helmet in association with their Army Ants jersey.
As for the age specifics of each roster, Gafner, who was atop the Grand Blanc program from 2008-2010 and is currently Hartland’s head coach, categorizes players by the grade they’re in so his athletes end up competing against older and more refined competition.
That means the U19 team is made up of 11th and 10th graders, the U17 squad consists of sophomores and freshmen and the U15 roster is made up of kids in seventh and eighth grade. Because the Army Ants practice in Grand Blanc, its U19 lineup includes Bobcats defenseman Griffin Boyd and Davison’s Hunter Lucas (goalie) and Dominic Sutermeister (LSM), all of whom are juniors.
The U17 Coalition Team also features Grand Blanc sophomore midfielders Benny Sly and Parker Koons and freshmen Connor Kish (defense), Mason Freeman (LSM), Max Nylander (midfield) and Spencer Bully (attack). Midfielders Austin Easton, a Davison sophomore, and Swartz Creek freshman Liam Jarrad are members of this squad, as well.
The U15 roster, on the other hand, is highlighted by Grand Blanc eighthgrade midfielders Taylor Mack, Luke Duncanson and Jackson Riggle, attacker Mitchell Baggett and seventh grade goalie Parker Macco.
Results for the U19 team this summer includes placing second at the Brewtown Showdown on June 22-23 in Milwaukee, Wisc., and on July 5-7 the squad took a 3-2 overtime victory to claim the championship at the Notre Dame Boys Team Camp. Next up for this squad is the season ending Cherry Bomb in Traverse City on July 26-28.
In 2013 the cost for U19 and U17 players was about $1,700 with a down payment of $400 and a monthly payment plan of $130 from November to August. The U15 squad paid just a little less a year ago at $1,200 with a $400 down payment and a monthly charge of $160 from April to August.
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