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Champ takes helm of Wildcat lacrosse | Coach Chris Castleberry sees growing sport culture
State champion goaltender and former Marine Chris Castleberry has been hired to coach the Mount Si prep lacrosse program.
Castleberry, 30, who earned All-State honors while leading Port Angeles High School to a 2001 Division II state lacrosse championship before spending six years and two overseas deployments in the U.S. Marine Corps, takes over as the club’s second coach.
“His ideas about how sport fits into education and the building of a complete program from elementary to high school were exactly what we were looking for,” said Mount Si Lacrosse Club parent board member Mike Dowling. “His approach was refreshing.”
Castleberry is a former collegiate player and graduate of the University of San Diego and founder of the U.S. Marine Corps Lacrosse Team where he was a former member of an elite military police Special Reaction Team. He landed the Mount Si position after completing his military service and returning home to take an education job with the Snoqualmie Tribe, where he is a member.
Since Mount Si’s first season fielding a team in 2009-10, the sport has grown briskly in popularity in the Snoqualmie Valley.
After just two wins in its first two seasons, the Scarlet and Gray earned berths in Washington Lacrosse High School State Tournament in 2012 and 2013, including advancing to the Division II state quarterfinals last spring.
Fueling the high school program of some 60 student-athletes at the varsity, junior varsity and freshman levels is a 29 percent annual growth rate for lacrosse in the Snoqualmie Valley. In 2013, nearly 250 youth from nine area schools played the game.
“(Lacrosse) is starting to be more of the culture out here in the valley,” Castleberry said. “We’re at the beginning of something great. It’s going to be a fast, fun year.”
Mount Si lacrosse, year by year
• 2009-10: First year of Boys Division II play. Finished 0-13-0, last in the Evergreen Conference.
• 2010-11: Finished 2-16-0, last in the Division II Evergreen Conference. Did not make the Washington state tournament. Earned first historical win in March with a 5-3 defeat of the combined Port Angeles-Sequim high school squad. Later defeated South Kitsap High School 6-2 on the final day of the regular season for its second historical win.
• 2011-12: Finished 10-3-0 with a second-place finish in the Division II Evergreen Conference, advancing to the opening round of Washington state tournament.
• 2012-13: Finished 9-7-0 with a second-place finish in the newly aligned Division II KingCo Lacrosse Conference, advancing to the quarter-final round of Washington state tournament falling to eventual state champion Nathan Hale.
• 2013-14: First year under Chris Castleberry. Returns 14 of 29 from its 2013 roster including junior midfielder Blake Picchena, who led underclassmen with 16 points (12g, 4a) and All-State defender Tyler Smith who led the team with 54 ground balls last spring. Castleberry replaces Woodrow Kaiser, the Wildcats coach through their first four years, who accepted a teaching position in Texas.