West Coast is the best coast – at least for up and coming sports

Elsa Block

Over the past couple of decades, sports have evolved from recreational games, to a way of life. In different parts of the world, the popularity of some specific sports differ. On the West Coast, sports such as surfing and beach volleyball have been popular and thriving for years. However, these sports are not nearly as common in other parts of the United States. On the East Coast, sports such as lacrosse and field hockey have an intense and competitive culture, something that has only begun to transition to the West. 


During an intense semi-final game versus Novato, the boys lacrosse team comes in as coach Blake Atkins shares a brief message (Photo courtesy of Matt Holmstrom)

Boys’ varsity lacrosse coach Blake Atkins is originally from Baltimore, Maryland. Atkins participated in the intense lacrosse culture on the East Coast in high school, where his team won the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) championship in 1998, ranking his team third in the country. 

“We would have Tuesday games in high school where thousands of fans would come to watch us play. It was pretty nice out there, feeling the support of the spectators. In Maryland, lacrosse is a way of life,” Atkins said. 

In Marin, lacrosse may not be a “way of life,” but it certainly has become a big part of growing up for many. The sport has seen significant growth at many California high schools, including Redwood and is even beginning to catch up to the levels of popularity along the East Coast.

“[The Redwood team is] starting to see a lot more students come to watch our games. It’s becoming more popular than it was in years past, and that popularity grows by the year,” Atkins said. 

Along with the level of popularity, there are several other differences in the way lacrosse is played coast to coast. Recent Redwood graduate Thayer Schwartz has witnessed the transition of various sports, moving to Marin from Fairfield County, Connecticut in the summer before her junior year. Schwartz has been playing lacrosse since second grade, and additionally played during her junior year at Redwood. For Schwartz, a key difference between playing on the East and West Coast is the size of the programs. 

“The program for lacrosse was much bigger in Connecticut. At my old high school, we had a freshman team, a junior varsity team and a varsity team [which is different compared to our junior varsity and varsity]. There were a lot of players on each team. We had a coach, an assistant coach and a couple of other coaches for each team as well,” Schwartz said. 


Field Hockey

Finishing a pass in an intense field hockey game, Eleanor Titcombe swings her stick to follow through

Another East Coast sport that has grown in popularity on the West Coast is field hockey. Schwartz was very familiar with the sport from living in Conn., but did not play until she moved to Calif. 

“Field hockey was so popular on the East Coast. Lots of people played it, and it was much more popular there than at Redwood,” Schwartz said. 

Field hockey became popular at Redwood around 5 years ago, and is still growing today. The sport has become one of the most popular at Redwood, and just recently went from having a varsity team only to having a junior varsity team as well. 



Since the weather in the West is more favorable, the ideal sailing conditions have caused the sport to grow in popularity. Senior Jim Young has been sailing since he was nine, and is glad the sport is gaining more recognition in the West.

“It’s not the same every time you [sail]. The conditions on the water are always different, and I think that is a fun challenge. I also think sailing is fun because on the Pacific Coast, we have warmer weather which makes for nicer conditions,” Young said. 

Young has sailed all over the U.S., including Florida, Texas and Virginia. Young noted that the weather in these locations made sailing more difficult, which was one of the biggest differences between sailing on the East Coast and sailing on the West Coast. 

“Lots of people go out and sail on the East Coast, but I don’t think there’s any reason specifically why [one is better than the other]. We have great water and great opportunities here in Marin to sail,” Young said. 

Traveling East to compete in a sport is not uncommon for West Coast athletes. In fact, many lacrosse players travel to the East Coast with their club teams to compete at a more advanced level. 

“Calif. kids are now going to compete against the East Coast teams. The class of 2024 has 10 to 15 guys who have traveled to the East Coast and played a lot over there this summer,” Atkins said. 

Guarding the field with a watchful eye, Coach Blake Atkins attentively watches the intense lacrosse game (photo courtesy of Matt Holmstrom)

Depending on who you ask, lacrosse, field hockey or sailing can be more or less popular in different parts of the nation. However, it cannot be denied that these sports have been growing immensely in popularity in new regions, due to weather conditions and the desire to play the sport. These sports continue to grow on the West Coast, and it is only a matter of time before a new sport takes over.