Mercer Island lacrosse program to make trip to Russia

Photo courtesy of Laura Jantos Mercer Island lacrosse players Max Jantos and Will St. Mary team up with a few Mercer Island Lacrosse Club youth players during a gear drive at QFC on Mercer Island on July 15. The Islanders boys lacrosse team will visit Russia from From July 27 through Aug. 8.

Members of the Mercer Island boys lacrosse team will partake in a trip of a lifetime this summer overseas.

The Islanders, who captured second place in the Washington High School Boys Lacrosse 3A state tournament this past May, will travel to Russia as a team from July 27 through Aug. 8. The purpose of the trip is for Islanders athletes to not only play lacrosse with Russian teams, but simultaneously teach and develop the sport of lacrosse with the youth of Russia as well. The Islanders lacrosse club has been invited by the Russian Lacrosse Federation and men’s lacrosse clubs from Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Mercer Island lacrosse club program director Ian O’Hearn, who has also been the Islanders varsity lacrosse head coach for the past 16 years, said his team has gone to Victoria, Canada each season, but has never traveled to another continent.

“I think it is a unique experience for our players. First of all, they will get the international experience of lacrosse in another country but also gain the cultural experience as well. I think it’s really good for the development of the sport in other countries. I think by us going there, we’re going to help bring exposure for the sport of lacrosse developing in Russia. It is great growing the game in other parts of the world,” O’Hearn said. “The fact we are going across the world for a trip is huge. It will build team chemistry and will be good for team bonding. It is a sport they love, and they are getting to teach the sport to kids in another country. It is going to be really cool.”

O’Hearn’s players are excited about the opportunity to share their lacrosse knowledge and expertise in Russia. Islanders lacrosse player Max Thilen said during his childhood, lacrosse wasn’t as popular as it is today, and he wants to help continue the growth of the sport.

“Growing up, I always had great leaders that helped me learn the sport that I loved. Being able to spread the love of lacrosse, and especially in a different country, is a really cool opportunity that I will probably only get once in my lifetime,” Thilen said.

Mercer Island defender Derrick Hicks concurred with Thilen’s sentiment.

“We have a lot of events that we will be doing. We are not only teaching the kids about lacrosse, but we are also learning about the culture there. It should be pretty fun,” Hicks said.

Max Jantos, who traveled to Russia in the summer of 2016, can’t wait to share his knowledge of lacrosse during the course of the trip as opposed to being a tourist.

“It is going to be really cool going back. This time, I’m going to be coming at it from a very different angle. I’m actually going to be meeting and working with the people there. That is going to be really cool,” Jantos said.

Junior Donnie Howard is one of those players with immediate family ties to Russia. His mother Loulia is from Russia and speaks Russian fluently.

“I haven’t been there in years. I don’t really remember much from Russia but I’m excited to see my family and also teach the game of lacrosse. I think it is going to be very interesting to try to teach the sport to people who don’t speak the same language as you. Visuals are going to be very key to our success,” Howard said. “I know a little bit of Russian myself. I’m going to do my best to understand and try to translate to the rest of the team members. It is going to be something we are going to have to face.”

Howard’s mother Loulia played a pivotal role in making the Islanders trip to Russia a reality. Loulia said plans for the trip this summer began more than 12 months ago.

“It is going to be the first US (United States) lacrosse team of any caliber actually traveling to Russia. We are making history. It is huge and is very exciting,” Loulia said. “We are going to bring lacrosse to this country (Russia). This is something special for the entire (lacrosse) program.”

More in Sports

Goal celebration in Mercer Island win

Mercer Island senior captain Jackie Stenberg, left, celebrates scoring in regular time… Continue reading

Mercer Island Islanders senior swim athlete Chloe Mark, who has advanced to the Class 3A state swim meet in the 500 free the past two seasons, wants to see her team finish in one of the top three spots at the Class 3A state swim meet this November. The Islanders captured fourth place at the Class 3A state meet during the 2017 season. Shaun Scott/staff photo
Mark is a marvelous swimmer for Mercer Island

Mercer Island senior Chloe Mark has loved swimming since she was in elementary school.

‘She likes to win and she likes to run hard’

Mercer Island’s Maggie Baker tears up the cross country course.

Mercer Island player Oliver Schaaf, (No. 5), plays defense against the Newport Knights in the season opener on Sept. 6. Photo courtesy of Michelle Kavesh
Islanders boys water polo team is striving for excellence in the pool

Mercer Island defeats Newport in season opener.

Mercer Island volleyball players Anika Iverson, left, and Quinn Casey, right, leap into the air against the Skyline Spartans in a non-league contest on Sept. 12 on Mercer Island. Skyline defeated Mercer Island 3-1 in the matchup. Photo courtesy of Patrick Krohn/Patrick Krohn Photography
Spartans defeat Islanders in nonleague volleyball contest

Mercer Island head coach Samantha Marziello is in her first season leading the program.

Mercer Island Islanders running back Jack Clayville scored two rushing touchdowns against the Issaquah Eagles on Sept. 7. Mercer Island improved their overall record to 2-0 courtesy of their 13-0 victory against Issaquah. Photo courtesy of Patrick Krohn/Patrick Krohn Photography
Stingy defense propels Islanders to a victory

Mercer Island running back Jack Clayville rumbles for two rushing touchdowns.

The Eastside Lions varsity rugby squad (pictured) earned third place at Nationals in Kansas City this past May. Photo courtesy of Hugh Gladner
Eastside Lions rugby club is thriving on the Eastside

Lions varsity squad earns third place at nationals.

Thunder Sports Network takes the sports world by storm

Rich Hallstrom and Chris Brown co-authored Thunder Sports Network, but it’s friendship that counts.

Cecilia Sommerfield, left, and Emily Guedel, right, competed at the USA Water Polo National Junior Olympics from July 26-29 in San Jose, California. Sommerfield and Guedel will be freshman during the 2018-19 school year at Mercer Island High School. Shaun Scott, staff photo
Competing against top-caliber competition in California

Mercer Island athletes compete in water polo Junior Olympics.

Mercer Island Islanders senior boys lacrosse player Donnie Howard competed on the Russian National lacrosse team at the 2018 FIL World Lacrosse Championships from July 12-21 in Israel. Shaun Scott/staff photo
Howard partakes in an experience of a lifetime

Mercer Island senior Donnie Howard competes in 2018 FIL World Lacrosse Championships.

Andrews soars onto the national stage

Brooke Andrews, 13, is looking to compete at the 2018 USA Diving Junior National Championships.

Sound Publishing sportswriter Shaun Scott poses for a quick picture with members of the Bellevue Christian Vikings football team following a weight training session on July 19 at Bellevue Christian School in Bellevue.
                                Photo courtesy of Todd Green
An undoubtedly memorable experience

Working out with the Bellevue Christian Vikings football team was formidable test.