Frequently Asked Questions



I have never played lacrosse before. Can I join the Riverdale team?

We have two missions with Riverdale lacrosse: first, to introduce as many people to the sport of lacrosse as possible; second, to improve the quality of lacrosse play at Riverdale High School. We will teach anyone who wants to learn to play the sport. But, we cannot teach you once the season begins. Come out, learn early, and then join our conditioning program to be a part of the team. Season is for players, not learners. Sorry.  Return to top



Is there a Junior Varsity (JV) team at Riverdale?

Not yet. The school administration is very supportive of the new directions lacrosse has taken at RHS, but they do not plan to have a JV team for either boys or girls in 2016. They have talked about 2017 as a target date. That said, if we have enough players come out–and if there is a lot of interest from potential JV players and parents–maybe the school will allow us to have a team, at least on a limited basis. Sending emails and calling the school is always a great way to show your support for a positive movement.  Return to top



What equipment do I need to play lacrosse?

The school provides boys helmets, two jerseys, and shorts. Boys must have gloves, arm pads, shoulder pads, a cup, and cleats. We suggest you do NOT get the entry-level gear available at most stores, both online and locally. They offer the absolute minimum protection and quality. It will be worth it to go a level or two higher. Lacrosse is a rough sport, with lots of stick and body checks. Your body parts—especially those attached to boys—will be much happier with better protection. Look at and similar sites for the best deals on gear.  Return to top



What kind of stick should I get?

This is the most common question. Generally speaking, lacrosse sticks are like skis and bicycles: the more you spend, the better the equipment. While it is tempting to get the least expensive stick at the sporting goods store, it’s not a good investment for those who play even moderately seriously. I promise you, if you buy the cheap stick you will buy a replacement stick within a year. Buy something better. Read reviews. Watch YouTube videos. Talk to other players.

That said, there is an exception to this rule: our advice is usually to buy online. Look in the clearance and sale sections on websites like for last year’s sticks and heads. You can get an outstanding deal ($around $35) for a product that sold for over $100 last year. Prices are 25-30% less for the same products you find at Dick’s or Sports Authority. Read reviews online to see what other players like. It’s best to know your position to get a good idea of how appropriate a given stick will be for you. Broadly speaking, boys attack and midfielders use the same type of stick (though face-off specialists will want one with more flex). Defensive players use a 6’-long stick with a reinforced head. Everyone needs a short stick; some players will need a long stick.

Rule of thumb: avoid a “beginner’s stick” for either girls or boys. You will outgrow the capabilities of such a stick very quickly.  Return to top
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There are new coaches at Riverdale for 2018. What does that mean in terms of changes?

Coach Richard Williamson returns to head the boys team for 2018. He will be joined by Assistant Coaches Aaron Renfroe and Josh Lavy. Both have been involved with the program at varying levels over the past three years. Last year’s girls coach, Michelle Williamson, we replaced by Mrs. Mueller, who had first option on the coaching spot since she is a faculty member at Riverdale High School. That’s the way the system works. Michelle is now coaching at Port Charlotte High School, and we wish her the very best of luck there! 

Here are a few things we’ve noticed so far about RHS lacrosse culture:

  1. There is a tradition of great team spirit and a ferocious desire to compete. That is part of the reason we are here. The Coaches Williamson—and, indeed, all the other local coaches—are well aware of the spirit and athleticism at Riverdale. We want to be a part of that, and will continue to draw on the energy that is at the core of Raider sports. We believe in the players and traditions of Riverdale lacrosse.
  2. Riverdale players no longer expect to lose. We’ve gone from a team that won 3 games out of 104 starts to one that won 10 last year. We aren’t a joke. We are a serious team.
  3. You can make the lacrosse team just by showing up. Sorry. That’s in the past. Now, you have to be serious about lacrosse to get on the team. You may not be a great player (yet) but we can see dedication and promise. Impress us. 
  4. Seniors get first choice of positions and play time. The best players and those with the most dedication are going to be our starters. If we have two players of equal ability, one a freshman and one a senior and have to choose only one…we choose the one who will provide the most long-term benefit to the team.
  5. The players decided who played various positions, who played in games and how much, and how practices were structured. No. That’s not the case anymore. As in any sport, the coaches should and will be deciding on player positions, play time and practice structure.
  6. Boys lacrosse at Riverdale was all about hitting and “taking souls;” players came out simply to be able to smash the other teams. That, too, is over. We will play lacrosse the way it is supposed to be played. There will be no gratuitous on- or off-field violence. No Riverdale team will disrespect the game of lacrosse by playing to hit. We play to improve our skills, to score goals, and to win games.
  7. Lacrosse was the sport to do if you wanted to letter and not have to work very hard. We’ve heard this many times and still find it a little unbelievable. If it was true once it is no longer. Lacrosse is not a throw-away sport for rejects who don’t make the other teams. We are serious athletes in a serious program. Hopefully perception will catch up with reality soon!  Return to top


What is expected of Riverdale Lacrosse players?

That’s a broad question. Let’s put it this way…we expect you to show up and to work hard–and to NOT make excuses for why you did neither of those. We expect you to learn and be open to coaching.

We expect all players to follow the team policies and rules, all rules of Riverdale High School and Lee County Schools, as well as those of US Lacrosse and the Florida High School Athletic Association. That’s a lot of rules, but it’s really pretty simple. We urge you to research the applicable rules because you ARE responsible for conforming to them. You will find the detailed team code of conduct and rules on this website here…

The biggest rule for the teams is this: When a coach is talking you are NOT; if you are not paying attention, you will be asked to leave.
In a nutshell, we can break our program down into several phases of the year. Participation at various points of the year is suggested or required depending on the phase. For a full description of expectations, visit this page.  Return to top



Are there tryouts?

Yes. Each season, we start with a tryout period in which we evaluate the overall suitability of a player for a team. At the end of that period there will be “squad reduction.” We will keep no more than the maximum number of players as allowed by FHSAA rules (25 during playoffs). Experience tells us that 16-20 for boys and 18-22 for girls is ideal and more than that is impractical on several reasons. Coaches look at various aspects of potential players to determine the best fit for the team. We will look at fitness, lacrosse knowledge, attitude, team play, leadership, lacrosse-specific skills, attentiveness, ability/willingness to follow instructions. We can only reasonably maintain a certain number of players before there will be people at practices with nothing to do and no possibility of getting into a game. We seek to avoid this at all costs while maintaining a solid team roster.  Return to top



I am involved in a lot of clubs and activities and won’t be able to make it to boot camp, conditioning or practices. How does that affect my being on the team?

Sports is a metaphor for life. The harder you train and the better your attitude the better you will do on the field. The same guidelines apply for jobs, relationships, hobbies, and much of life. Life is also about choices. Too often today, we try to do too much. It’s not uncommon for kids to play two sports, be in several clubs, take music and dance lessons, and expect to have a full and rewarding social life. There’s a point where that’s not possible. Lacrosse is not a right, it’s a privilege. Most importantly, it’s a choice. You must first choose to play, then you must qualify for a place on the team. The only people who make the team are those who participate, work hard, have the right attitude, learn, and show up.  Return to top



I am the best player on the team. I am guaranteed a spot on the team, right?

No. No player is guaranteed a spot on the team. Teams are not about who is the best player, they are about putting together the best collection of talent and personalities to make a functioning and competitive squad. RHS lacrosse coaches will make rosters based not on who is the best player but who is the best player for the team. That may mean the person with the best physical skill set may not make the team because his or her attitude, lacrosse knowledge, or fitness is not up to par or consistent with the overall needs of the team.  Return to top



Last year, I was a starter on Varsity. Am I guaranteed a spot on the team?

No. We evaluate each player based on how they will fit into the overall team. Every year, you must play at your best to make the team. But understand that playing at your best may not earn you a spot on the roster.  Return to top



If you have a senior and a sophomore with the same skills, fitness and attitude both going for the same spot on the team, who gets it?

We are building a program. Each year builds on the last. Every year, the best players will be the starters. If there is a younger player with the same skill set as an older one, we will more than likely play the younger one. That is for the good of the program.  Return to top



I don’t think it’s fair that we are expected to do conditioning. Why do we have to?

We don’t think it’s fair that you expect to make a team when you haven’t put in the effort to be among the best. It is also not fair if, when there are a few dozen players dedicated to improving themselves and their fitness levels and learning about the sport, a player who has not participated in any team events, training, conditioning, education or team-building exercises is able to displace one of those players who have been there working hard to do his or her best to make Riverdale Lacrosse a quality program. That said, pre-season conditioning is not required. You should do it if you plan to make the team. You will be hard pressed to get on the roster without rising to the pre-season fitness levels of the rest of the team.  Return to top


I heard that if we don’t do the pre-season conditioning we cannot make the team. Is that true?

If you are in another sport at RHS from October 1 through the start of the lacrosse season, we don’t expect you to do conditioning with us. If you are not in a sport and are not doing conditioning, then it will be difficult to make the squad. That’s not a matter of policy but rather a reality of fitness, team chemistry, and learning.  Return to top



I work after school. Can I still play lacrosse?

Attendance at practices is required during the main season. If you can juggle your job and practices, great. If not, you have to choose. We generally tell players that you are in high school once in your life but you will work the rest of your life. You must decide if your part-time after school job is more important than the memories of a full and active high school career. For some it is, and that’s fine. For others, it’s not. You choose. Our rules are simple. The team cannot conform to your schedule.  Return to top



Can I play another sport while playing lacrosse?

You cannot play or practice for two sports at Riverdale High School. It seems the rule of thumb at RHS is that if you are in one sport you can’t practice or play with another. So we will stick to that same set of rules. Why? Because we base our season on our full roster being able to participate. If you get hurt outside of our team setting, then you’ve shorted yourself and, more importantly, your team the ability to play as well as possible. As with other activities, you must choose between Raider lax and other options. Choose whatever makes you happy. Happiness is important.  Return to top



What are the rules on attendance and tardiness?

You are expected to be on time to regular season practices. You are expected to make it to every regular season practice. Three lates equal a missed practice. Miss a practice within two days of a game and you miss the game. See other attendance rules here.

      Allowable excuses for missing

      Boot camp:                                                 Pre-season conditioning:                                     In-season practices and games
      Totally voluntary                                         School project or commitment                                         Illness

Other sport/School event                                     Injury (must attend and observe)                               Injury (must attend and observe)
Injury (should attend and observe)                    School event                                                                    School event
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What can my parents do to help? Are there parent expectations?

At present, we have little parent involvement. Football has a booster club with some 700 members. Football raises heaps of money and has people helping out all the time for all sort of activities. We need that if we plan to be better than average. We also need volunteers to do stats each game, run the time clock, in-game announcements, and concessions and souvenir sales.  Return to top



Are there fundraising activities?

We are in the process of making some. We must fundraise! We need helmets, goalie gear and extra training equipment dedicated to our team.  Return to top



How do I letter in lacrosse?

All players who make the team and follow all team rules for attendance, participation and conduct will be awarded a varsity letter.  Return to top



I am a parent who wants to have a word with the coach.

If you want to compliment us or the team, we’d love to hear it. Better still, send us a testimonial and we will post it on our website! If you want to complain about playing time, please read the FAQ below this one first. If you have a complaint or concern, we would love to discuss it with you. Our policy is to have a third party person witness parent meetings. This helps reduce the chance that one party might misunderstand the other. Please do not confront us in the parking lot or on the field. That’s a sure way to create an adversarial relationship that will benefit no one.  Return to top



Why is my son or daughter not getting more playing time?

When we have parent conferences, this is the NUMBER ONE question we are asked. There are several ways to answer this, but the parent who asks this question is guaranteed to like NONE of them. But let’s try it anyway. Short answer: It’s nothing personal. It’s because he or she is not at the level of the other players on the team and therefore the team does not benefit from him or her being on the field at the present time. In time, maybe he or she will improve enough to  be on the field more. It happens. Meanwhile, nothing you can say will change this. Long answer: High school sports teams are NOT like recreational or little league sports teams. There is no guarantee of play time. To be honest, we coaches are NOT even considering equal time for all team members when we are making our game plans. The job of a high school coach is to win games. The school wants victories because, well, they just do. It gives them–the administrations, faculty, students, alumni, parents…everybody–something to cheer for and be proud of. Now, YOU may think your kid is the best player and that all he needs is to be given a chance to prove himself, but you are not seeing the full picture. You aren’t at practices EVERY day when the players are given the chance to prove themselves OVER and OVER and OVER again. And if your child were proving to the coaches that he was the best darned attacker or goalie, don’t you think we’d have her on the field helping us win? Think on that for a minute. We will do all we can (within the rules and with good ethics) that we can do win, so why would we NOT be playing your kid if it would help us? Sometimes, players aren’t quite ready to be on the field. They need more practice time with the team, or maybe they don’t know their plays, or maybe they don’t gel with the other players. It’s possible that he or she did okay in tryouts but after that has not improved as quickly as the other kids or has an injury, bad attitude, or just isn’t as into it as it first seemed. Whenever possible, we put second- or third-tier player in the game. Return to top


When are practices?


At present, practices will be at 2pm after school. There is a possibility that practices may move to evenings. Our coaching staff all have full-time jobs outside the school, which is the case with all but three of the lacrosse programs in Lee, Collier, and Charlotte Counties. Return to top