The Thomas Jefferson Spartans are looking to have a better season this year following their first season as a team last year.
After the first season of the rebuilt boys lacrosse program, head coach Jason Klimczak and his varsity team look to represent TJ. With both individual and team goals, the coaches and the entire team are eager to build from last year’s season, along with fixing the holes in the team.
In the 2014-2015 season, TJ started its own lacrosse program after being combined with South for the past several years. The Spartans had a rough year ending their first season back with a record of 2-14, but ultimately finished 6th in their conference. Starting offensive player and sophomore Landon Cramer explained, “It was hard, but after it ended we knew we would be back, and I feel like this off season has matured all of us. I feel like we have grown closer as a team since last season, we have played with a lot more heart and dedication to the team than ever before.”
The team began preparations for the 2015-2016 season in November of 2015, holding workouts and conditioning every Tuesday and Thursday. As more players attended the workouts, the desire and excitement for the upcoming season grew; now, the team has hit the season running and has already caught many teams by surprise. Klimczak stated, “The whole team is very excited for the season to start. The intensity is higher than ever and we are just ready to start.”
To begin the season, the Spartans scrimmaged against the George Washington Patriots on Saturday, March 5th at GW, immediately followed by a second scrimmage against the Machebeuf Buffaloes. Junior midfielder Evan Domagala described, “We are excited for these matchups; we feel like this is a good opportunity to show our improvement and see what we need to work on before our first game.” As the Spartans began warmups before their scrimmage, they encountered an interesting addition to their team: the Buffaloes began to warm up with them. Due to low numbers on Machebeuf’s team, TJ teamed up with them to face the Patriots. Danny Summers, a junior at Colorado Early Colleges, explained, “We played well, moved the ball around, but need to get more shots on goals. Defense killed it out there, but needs to take their time on clears.” After an unfortunate loss by only a few points against GW, the Spartans prepared for their next game against Machebeuf. Star goalie and sophomore Jake Downing commented, “We handled them easily; [this] definitely gives us a lot of confidence coming into this next week and a vision of where we can take this program. We have a lot of young talent on the team and are excited to see it in real game situations.”
Following Klimczak as the Head Coach are assistant coaches Curtis Fulton, Sean Hoferer, and Brent Shanahan, all of whom have unique specialties and a history within the sport. Klimczak has coached lacrosse for nine years, seven of which have been spent as head JV and assistant varsity coach at Highlands Ranch High School. He is the main support for the team, assisting both offense and defense with an impressive knowledge of lacrosse. Fulton is in charge of directing the offensive aspect of the team, having coached with Klimczak for over four years. As a result, they have gotten to know one another’s coaching styles. Meanwhile, the Spartan’s two new coaching additions to the team, Hoferer and Shanahan, both assist the defensive aspect of the sport. Even though these coaches are new to the high school level, they have provided a significant amount of advice and support to the team, offering drills that the team is able to incorporate into games and practices in order to advance their skills. “All of the coaches put in so much time and energy into this team,” described Domagala, “and it really shows through each drill that we perform. They are invested in us, and really want us to reach both our team as well as our individual goals.”
The Spartans are off to an incredible start this season with four wins and only three losses. Their wins came from Clear Creek, with a score of 15-6, Gateway, 17-5, North, 9-6, and a win over Lutheran, 13-10. All of the team’s games have been hard fought and have some have ended coming down to the last few seconds on the clock. The team’s next home game is on Thursday, April 29th facing off against the South Rebels at TJ.