March 16th, 2012

Elementary Excellence: St. Raphael Lacrosse

Sarah Newell

CSN Staff Writer

Elementary Excellence: St. Raphael Lacrosse
photo from Carolyn Halvarson

Giant goals lead to growing athletic program

The following feature is a part of a weekly series called "Elementary Excellence" - a set of profiles that will spotlight Louisville area Catholic elementary schools and its athletic programs, teams, traditions and excellence in all aspects of sports. Do you want your school to be featured? Send us your recommendation to

With the season of spring in the air, the Giants’ Lacrosse has come right along with it.

And Assistant Athletic Director Carolyn Halvarson said that her school is adding more excitement around the sport with each new year.

“When we started four years ago, we were the first Catholic grade school in the area to start the program,” said Halvarson. “Even just a year later, many more Catholic schools in the area had gotten involved in the sport.”

As the first Catholic grade school to put lacrosse sticks in the air, current Lacrosse Coordinator Clay Kannapell helped jump start the game a few years ago for the young giants.

“He is actually the parent who approached our athletic board fall of 2008 asking if we would consider bringing the sport to our school,” said Halvarson. “He’s from up north where it’s very popular. He played lacrosse and he has experience with it.”

And since then, the Giants have expanded and continued to move down field to make more goals.

“Every year we see this new group of fifth graders coming into the sport and they can’t wait to learn about the game,” said Halvarson. “Every single year it’s so exciting to watch. There are new parents who are excited too, and it’s new to them as well. The overall energy and enthusiasm is great, and it’s a new sport for the coaches as well. We’re all learning at the same time.”

The Giants have roughly 50 male student athletes playing this season among the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth graders this year.

“I think it’s popular because it’s very faced pace and it takes some elements off a lot of different sports that people love,” said Halvarson. “It’ like soccer because you have to get the ball in the goal, it’s like hockey with the penalties in the game, it’s like football with blocks and full on player to player contact. In addition, there is not one specific body that a player has to have to be successful. I think there’s a place for everyone to play.”

While lacrosse is not a sanctioned CSAA sport at this time, Halvarson said that many Catholic grade schools still have come together to play.

“A lot of schools combine their players to be on teams,” said Halvarson. “We have St. Agnes and John Paul students on our St. Raphael teams. Since we started, we have seen the sport in the Louisville area grow by leaps and bounds.”

Halvarson’s eigth grade son is a lacrosse player who was on the original fifth grade team started at St. Raphael.

“The grade getting ready to graduate was on the pioneer team, and they are the first ones who have seen the program all the way (5-8 grades). It’s so exciting to watch new numbers of players coming into lacrosse and wanting to be successful,” said Halvarson.

In the future, Halvarson sees lacrosse able to reach more goals in the future.

Said Halvarson: “You never saw lacrosse gear to buy, but now there is lots of gear available at stores. My hope is that it continues to be a great program that builds and becomes available to our girls at the school. Also, I want the sport to be available to the younger ages (third and fourth grades). If you can start the good habits early, you will see all the students have more success in well into the future.”


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