Sticking With It: Persistence leads to start of girls lacrosse team


Mary-Kathryn Wert

Demonstrating the way to use a lacrosse stick, head coach Ross Dessert shows players tips to practice at the throw around on Jan. 29 and Jan. 30. “I hope to get everyone to fall in love with it.,” Dessert said.

Alena Gillespie, Features editor

The wait is over. After more than a decade of pushing for a girls lacrosse team, the school is starting one in the spring.
As the last Johnson County Catholic high school to start a program, the Stags will join six other Catholic schools in the Kansas City Metro Girls Lacrosse League, including three Missouri parochial schools.
Coaching since he was 16 years old, junior theology teacher and head lacrosse coach Ross Dessert has been pushing for a team since his first year teaching at Miege in the 2012-13 school year.
“There were concerns about whether we have too many sports and not enough girls, the costs of it for players and other coaches who are worried that athletes might not do this or that,” Dessert said. “That’s legitimate. You don’t want to harm another sport to bring another one in.”
With a big smile on his face, Dessert said he could not believe it when he heard the news that lacrosse was scheduled for the spring, which he said came about from parents and students interested in the sport.
“I kind of felt it was going to happen but I just don’t count anything until it happens,” Dessert said. “There’s a lot of girls who haven’t quite found their home for spring sports, so this is great for that.”
Since freshman Meara Hellings was 12, she has played on a lacrosse team. Though she did not expect it, Hellings said that she always hoped that Miege would have lacrosse.
“I was really excited,” Hellings said. “I looked forward to meeting new people that also enjoy the sport.”
For the season, Dessert reached out to former Miege graduates and lacrosse players to help coach. Four alumni agreed to coach.
“All these girls who’ve come here have wished that they could have played for Miege, but they had to play for another club, either Shawnee Mission or one of the other ones,” Dessert said. “Who better to help build this than them because they always wanted to have a team here, but it just never quite was able to happen.”
Assistant coach Mary Kathryn Johnson, class of ‘21, said she never thought the school would have a team while she was here, especially because only she and one other girl played in her grade.
“I was really excited that there was a new opportunity for girls to come together and grow to be like sisters,” Johnson said. “I always loved the community around lacrosse and it’s nice to see it begin at Miege.”
For the inaugural season, Dessert is expecting enough girls for there to be at least a junior varsity and varsity team. Practices will be held at the North Campus while games will be played in the stadium.
“I want to get everybody excited about the sport and how much fun it is to play lacrosse,” Dessert said. “If people are having fun, they will want to practice on their own and get better at it.”
Johnson said she hopes to grow relationships with the players, while teaching the fundamentals of lacrosse.
“I want it to be a safe place where we can practice, get frustrated and leave all those emotions on the field,” Johnson said. “I hope to win a few games, but team building means so much more to me.”
As the first season approaches, lacrosse will be a first-time sport for the majority of students playing. Dessert emphasized that lacrosse is for all girls no matter their abilities.
“Lacrosse is the kind of sport you can be small or big or fast or slow,” Dessert said. “You can find a way to play to your strengths and be successful.”
According to freshman Sophia Craig, she is excited to play lacrosse for her first time. She has watched lacrosse on TV, but never thought of playing it before this season.
“I feel like it’s going to be really fun,” Craig said. “There are a lot of girls doing it, and there is a variation between if they have played or not.”
Dessert said he is excited for the start of the season and hopes it brings inclusion to girls.
“I just think there’s a lot of girls walking around this school that will really like the sport of lacrosse,” Dessert said. “It’s such a fun sport to have around.”