Around the Crease: April 5, 2012

Kyle Manning and Kent Roosevelt have dedicated their season to former star Adam Hamilton who died in Afghanistan last year. Geri Strange

ESPNHS continues its weekly feature, Around the Crease, which takes a look at players, teams and high school lacrosse news from around the country.

In Memory

When Kent Roosevelt (Kent, Ohio) junior Kyle Manning and senior Pat Valerius step onto the lacrosse field this season, they do so in an attempt to emulate and honor one of their all-time heroes.

In middle school they watched former Rough Riders' star Adam Hamilton dazzle and dominate opposing defenses on his way to 104 assists and 100 goals over a 56-game career.

Hamilton died last May after his Army unit was attacked in Afghanistan. The Rough Riders have dedicated the 2012 season to him and wear colorful warm-up jerseys beneath their uniforms in his honor.

"When I would watch him, he was just big and fast and aggressive," Valerius said. "Adam's the player you want to model yourself after."

"Adam was a feeder and a threat as a shooter. I always look to see that middie cutting through or that attack man cutting to the crease," said Manning. "That's what I try to do. Share the ball around and get everyone going."

The commemorative shirts were designed by Lacrosse Wear, a company which employs Hamilton's former teammate, Joe Idone, son of coach John Idone.

"There's a lot of heart put into them. Adam was really close with both of my sons, which makes it more personal,” John Idone said. “His jersey number and some dog tags are on the back and wings and the American Flag are on the arm as well as Adam's jersey number.”

"Adam was a pretty gifted athlete. He just could exert his will on someone," Idone added. "They [the team] saw that kind of determination in Adam, and they're trying to model that."

So far the Rough Riders have done just that, getting off to a 3-0 start and out-scoring their opponents by a combined 53-15.

Valerius had seven goals with two assists during the Rough Riders' most recent win, Tuesday's 18-7 victory over Revere.

"Adam played with my brother, Larry. They were in the same grade and graduated in '07," said Valerius. "It's definitely honorable. It takes our team to the next level. It brings out the greatness in all of us. We all rally with it and we're playing great."

Lacrosse Participation On The Rise

More than 680,000 players participated in lacrosse on organized teams in 2011, according to the 2011 US Lacrosse Participation Survey released Tuesday. The figure is an increase of roughly 60,000 players from 2010, the largest one-year increase in the total number of players since US Lacrosse began tracking national data in 2001.

More than half of the total players compete at the youth level (age 15 and below), but every segment of the game is showing continued growth patterns. Lacrosse has been one of the nation's fastest-growing team sports for more than a decade, and that trend continued in 2011.

Small Minnesota Community Sanctions Girls Lacrosse

One of the tiniest areas of Minnesota has joined the lacrosse world, thanks to last month's vote by the St. Michael-Albertville School Board to allow the district's lone program by the same name to participate in the game.

Formerly a club team, the St. Michael-Albertville (Albertville, Minn.) is now sanctioned to play in sectional and state competition as part of the Minnesota State High School League along with other girls’ varsity sports such as softball and track.

It appears that STMA, as the program is called, will have enough girls available to form both junior varsity and varsity squads.

Florida District Eyes Pay-for-Play

According to a report by TampaBay.com, Florida's Hillsborough County school district is considering the prospect of introducing boys and girls lacrosse as a varsity sport to its member schools within a pay-for-play system.

Children in the area already play the sport with club teams, but with lacrosse having become a varsity sport in other school districts, their club competition opportunities are dwindling. So school board members are considering pay-for-play lacrosse in Hillsborough County as a pilot program.