Virgen: Hooked on lacrosse

Several parents from Newport Beach have been telling me about the increasing popularity of lacrosse in Orange County and Southern California.

There have been emails and phone calls. But we get these a lot about sports that aren't the traditionally popular ones, like football, basketball and baseball.

Finally it took a bump to my car for me to get the picture. A wise person once told me sometimes it does take a jolt in order to bring change and/or improvement.

Elizabeth Bader, whose son Nathan Chaness plays boys' lacrosse at Newport Harbor High, accidentally (or at least I hope it was an accident) hit my car with her car door when she was getting out in the Fashion Island parking structure. She told me my car was over the line. She was right, but I didn't want to argue after I noticed the Newport Lacrosse sticker on her car window.

After telling her that I was with the Daily Pilot, she explained to me about lacrosse and how it's catching on. The West Coast is becoming like the East Coast, where Bader is from, when it comes to lacrosse.

She also told me about Newport Harbor's big win over Los Alamitos two weeks ago when the Sailors took down the Sunset League's first-place team in front of a raucous crowd at Davidson Field.

Bader, a stay-at-home mom who is on the Newport Harbor lacrosse board, says she has some sales training and she definitely had me sold on checking out a game.

The game I went to on Wednesday was definitely a great game. I had never seen lacrosse like this before. I think I'm hooked.

Dare I say, it had a high-school-football-game feel. The NHHS marching band and the school's cheerleaders also helped with that atmosphere as well as a large, loud crowd cheering for their team that beat Marina, 13-11, in a thrilling game.

I write this with complete honesty, yet I must add the Newport Harbor lacrosse parents fed the media well at the game: jambalaya from Jack Shrimp in Newport Beach, and pizza from the Pizza Bakery in Newport Beach.

Very welcoming parents from Newport Harbor made my lacrosse experience even greater.

As I sat in the press box named after my former boss, Roger Carlson, I felt fortunate, and happy, to be able to gather notes and then tell a story about a great game and a team that has turned its season around.

The Sailors ended the regular season with six straight victories. They are on fire and have plenty of momentum. They'll need it because they open the playoffs with a first-round game at rival Corona del Mar, the lacrosse powerhouse in these parts.

The Sea Kings are the No. 2 seed in the U.S. Lacrosse Southern Section South Division playoffs. Newport Harbor is No. 15.

But when it comes to lacrosse experiences, the Sailors are No. 1.

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