Freshman Nolan Ewing continues his lacrosse career through the pandemic

Nina Geoghegan

Redwood sports often rank highly in both the Tamalpais Union High School District (TUHSD) — and in some cases, the state. This winning reputation has led some students, including freshman Nolan Ewing, to attend Redwood for their athletic interests. Unfortunately, a majority of school sports are currently not operating in-person. Carefully following the COVID-19 guidelines set by the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF), the TUHSD has set up a system of unlocking sports by tier where sports with more physical contact are placed in the levels requiring lower community COVID-19 rates (orange and yellow tiers). The outline puts boys’ lacrosse in the orange tier, making it one of the last sports to reopen. Various club teams, however, have been approved to continue with their gameplay. These special circumstances apply to Ewing and his nationally ranked lacrosse team, the West Coast Starz. 

Nolan Ewing (left) and Jackson Lesher (right) smile together in their team uniforms Courtesy of Jackson Lesher

Ewing was inspired to play lacrosse by his father, a former lacrosse player at Tamalpais High School, in kindergarten. According to Ewing, lacrosse was an East Coast dominated sport then and just as much now. Against the odds, West Coast Starz breaks Ewing’s evaluations of the East Coast’s track record, ranking fourth in the nation. Ewing regards the accomplishment as more of a form of reassurance. 

“[We were given] the confidence to go play against the East Coast teams because the East Coast is notoriously much better at lacrosse. [They] have way more players and have just [been playing longer],” Ewing said.  

The team’s skills were not always so sharp, though. In the words of fellow freshman and West Coast Starz teammate, Jackson Lesher, the group’s victories were at one point rare. 

“We were pretty bad in seventh grade, but the coaches brought in a lot of new recruits and we climbed the ranks,” Lesher said.

Ewing also recalls that when he initially joined, the team wasn’t very adept. Ewing attributes the team’s notable progress to their sheer dedication. 

“I know it’s cliche, but working [hard] every day… really helped,” Ewing said.

As expected, being on a high profile team like the West Coast Starz can be difficult at times. Lesher acknowledges that it took a strong commitment, but also stated that it was necessary in order to become a proficient player.

Ewing’s (right) hard work does not go unnoticed by his teammates who hold him in high regards Courtesy of Nolan Ewing

Another one of Ewing’s lacrosse teammates, freshman Eddie Lin, recognizes the dedication Ewing puts into the sport. 

“He’s a very special player … he does sessions after practice [and] he puts in the work,” Lin said.

Ewing’s skills on the lacrosse field are not the only thing that set him apart, though. 

“[Ewing] is one of the most supportive people I know. He always brings you up and never brings you down,” Lin said.

The boys also consider their close relationship with the other members to be a crucial aspect in their success. 

“We’re all really good friends and even though we live all across the U.S., we’re still able to connect and really build a relationship,” Lesher said.

To Ewing, a strong bond with his teammates was especially key in getting where they are today.

“Team chemistry was definitely [important].When I first got on the team, we bonded really quickly and that helped us become the team [that] we are right now,” Ewing said.

To continue improving on his lacrosse, Ewing chose to attend Redwood because of its tenacious team, who won not only the 2019 Marin County Athletics League (MCAL) championship but also the 2013 North Coast Section (NCS) Division I championship. Despite the victories of the past, this year might look different for the team because as the spring lacrosse season approaches, so does the threat of its postponement. Ewing; however, is not so concerned. 

“Overall, I’m not too worried … I don’t think it’s going to be [locked down] for my whole time at Redwood,” Ewing said.

In the case of COVID-19, only time can tell what will happen to school sports. Nevertheless, given Ewing’s optimism, devotion and dexterity with a lacrosse stick and ball, the future is not something to sweat over just yet.