School Spotlight: Catholic Lacrosse
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
2022 LHSLL Division-1 State Champions
Catholic High School in Baton Rouge is becoming a powerhouse in Louisiana lacrosse. The Bears are coming off their first-ever State Championship win in 2022 after defeating Jesuit (New Orleans) by a score of 8-2. This win comes just a year after the Bears fell to the same Jesuit team in the State Championship game in 2021.
The Bears look to be a dangerous contender once again in 2023 after graduating only 5 seniors from their Championship team and will be returning 17 of last season’s juniors that will be stepping up as the current seniors and leaders of this 2023 squad. They are a squad that has been to the peak of Louisiana lacrosse and are one of the most experienced teams in the state. Having a large number of seniors is obviously beneficial for many reasons, but the one that sticks out to me is the leadership and camaraderie that having good chemistry brings to any sports team.
I had the opportunity to speak to Varsity Offensive Coordinator and Assistant Coach Jonathon Miller, who has been coaching at Catholic for the past 7 years and is also a Catholic Lacrosse Alum from ‘09-‘13. He emphasized the importance of staying focused and always wanting to improve despite the success the Bears have had in recent years. What I took away from my conversation with coach Miller was that the coaching staff led by head coach Goerge Hopkins has their attention set on developing young men and mastering the game, allowing their other goals such as state championships to take care of themselves. He really emphasized the importance of the players’ mentality and how the main goal of the team is bigger than just wins and losses.
Here are some of the other things Coach Miller had to say!
What is one goal you’ve set for this upcoming season?
“It’s always easy to say your goal is to win a championship but that’s not our team goal. Is to pursue mastery in the sport of lacrosse. This is a lofty goal and some would say it’s unattainable, but it keeps our guys hungry to get better, regardless of if we are winning or losing games.”
What are you most excited about for the 2023 season?
“People will say that we are the favorites to win the championship again this year because we only lost 5 seniors from last year’s team. While that is true, our Varsity coaching staff is all different from last year save for the head coach. Some could say this is a detriment to the team, but already it’s apparent that it’s brought a wave of energy and motivation that will help push our players towards mastery.”
What do you think it takes to be a successful lacrosse team?
“To be a successful team in any sport takes good players and good coaching. If you have those two things, you’ll win games. To become a great team, you need leaders and you need culture. One of the proudest aspects of our program is the culture we’ve instilled over the past 4-5 years. We’ve had help from some great player leaders to get us to this point and now we are focusing on meeting that standard every year.”
What makes a good leader?
“From a coaching perspective, being a good leader has a few different traits. One of the most important in my mind is empowering the people around you. As a former player, I’d love to put a helmet on, lace up my cleats and go play for Catholic High again. But my time has passed and it’s these players that are getting to go out on the field and play this great game. If my players don’t feel empowered and prepared when they are on the field, I haven’t done my job as a coach. I haven’t helped them be the best that they can be.”
Are there any traits or mentalities that you emphasize within your program?
“We’ve had it stamped on almost every shirt we’ve made in our program, “Effort and Attitude.” Two things that a player can always control. We preach that if you give your best effort and bring the right attitude to every rep, we will get closer and closer to our goal of mastery.
What have you learned or adapted in your time serving as the head coach?”
What are some of your goals for the 2023 season?
“We want to strive to achieve mastery in the sport of lacrosse and teach life lessons.
Every team faces adversity in one way or another. What is something your team is facing and how do you plan on overcoming it?
“Due to our depth, guys will sometimes get less playing time than they may be used to. This can challenge a team’s culture. It will certainly be something we address in our off-season program and stress playing as a team.”
Who are the players that have displayed the strongest leadership on the team?
“Two of our biggest leaders are Hudson Brown and Nathan Schlegel. Both are dominant athletes and top tier in their respective positions. But both of them have humble personalities and a driving desire to beat the best teammates they can be. I think the highest compliment I could give them is that they both have an individual commitment to a group effort.”
What names should we know on the field for this upcoming catholic team?
“Definitely, the two guys listed above, Hudson Brown and Nathan Schlegel. Another guy to watch is our face-off man, Jaime Delahoussaye. He was the All-State player at Face-off in LA last year.”
Do any position groups stand out as particularly strong?
“We should be strong at nearly every position this year. Some standouts will probably be our midfield, followed closely by our close defensemen. Our defense has some shutdown guys on it this year and they are looking to maintain the dominant reputation that they earned last year.”
Are there any young players or newcomers that you expect to contribute?
“We have two sophomores that will get decent playing time at midfield. While I’m not putting a ton of expectations on them, I do expect them to be more than adequate subs for some of our more experienced midfielders.”
Are there any special teams (goalies/fogo/etc) that deserve a shoutout?
“ I’ve already mentioned our FOGO man, Jaime is primed for another dominant year. Our goalie situation is a bit different this year. We think we have two of the best goalies in the state, one is a junior and the other a senior. In the playoffs last year, they each played a half for us and it proved to be very effective. We haven’t decided exactly how playing time will be divided up this year but there is a possibility of them splitting halves again. We will be evaluating them in the fall and early spring to determine how we will handle that situation.”