Griz lacrosse finds new fans in Mexico

UM lacrosse player instructs camper on proper handling form in Mexico City. (Image courtesy of Will Freihofer)

The Griz club lacrosse season begins in early February, but just last week the team was in Mexico for a trip of a lifetime.

A connection from the northeast helped UM lacrosse head coach Tucker Sargent take his program to new heights.

"It was something that I wanted to do that was unique for our program," he said. "A really cool cultural experience for our players"

One of Sargent's former players from a camp in Maine now plays on the Mexican national team. He reconnected with him at the 2014 World Lacrosse Championship in Denver and talked about organizing a game between Montana and the national team.

This year Sargent's initial goal came to fruition. After discussing logistics with Mexico's head coach, Sargent and 18 of his players headed to Mexico City.

"I think I remember in fifth grade saying to myself I want to play college lacrosse, and then Tucker gave me that opportunity," said senior Seamus Clancy. "And then even more the opportunity to go play internationally, which was amazing, hands down the best experience."

Not only did the Grizzlies spend six days practicing with the national team, but together they put on camps for kids in Mexico as an effort to grow the sport.

"We ran just really basic camps," said Sargent. "But really just getting sticks in their hands and sharing our enthusiasm with them, and then the enthusiasm that they brought, it was just a really fun kind of magical moment where it was just sort of the purity of the sport."

When it came time for the game the Grizzlies represented Montana well by winning 12-6. It was a good test for the Griz, but this trip could be just the start of what both lacrosse programs hope to accomplish.

"We made some good connections down there, and we are talking about maybe expanding it and getting other colleges involved, but it definitely was a unique experience," said Sargent.

"I got in touch with one of the players who is starting a youth program, so I am hoping to go back there between August and December and actually try and help out with their youth program again," said Clancy.

It was a successful trip for the Grizzlies. More kids now have lacrosse sticks in their hands, and players formed a relationship that goes beyond national borders.

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