Brevard Panthers girls lacrosse club team helps players improve


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Holy Trinity's Blair Agee, left, and Viera's Brooke Halfacre are spending their summer playing for the Brevard Panthers, a traveling girls lacrosse team that features 45 players from around the county. The team is coached by Florida Tech's McKenzie Rafferty.

CARL KOTALA

The Brevard Panthers girls lacrosse club team offers a little bit of everything for high school and middle school players who can’t get enough of the sport they love.

“There are many reasons (why girls) play club lacrosse in the summer,” said Florida Tech women’s lacrosse coach McKenzie Rafferty, who also coaches the Panthers.

“Sometimes, it’s just for fun. Sometimes, it’s to be seen by college coaches. So, each one of these girls is playing for a different reason.

“We understand who wants to try to play at the next level and (we’re) trying to promote them and encourage them to be seen. And for the girls who just want to have fun, it’s making sure they’re on the field and they’re playing the best that they can to make other people shine at the same time.”

Viera High rising junior Brooke Halfacre didn’t start playing goalie until last season when she was on the Hawks’ JV team. Now that she’s planning on moving up to the varsity next season, the Panthers offer her the perfect chance to not only improve her skills in goal by getting college-level coaching, but to also be seen by college coaches.

“I wanted to keep up with lacrosse throughout the summer so I didn’t lose the skills I already had,” Halfacre said. “And I just enjoy playing lacrosse. It keeps me busy.”

Holy Trinity rising junior Blair Agee, meanwhile, isn’t sure if she wants to play in college. She was considering playing for a team in Orlando, but decided to play for the Panthers this summer to be closer to her friends.

“I wanted the good coaching and they have it here,” Agee said. “I also wanted to play with my friends and a lot of them are playing for this team. It makes it a lot more fun.”

The Panthers are now enjoying their second season connected to the Florida Tech women’s program. They played three tournaments in June and will put on a clinic in August.

Bob Staerk, the club’s director (his wife, Alison, is Viera’s JV coach and an assistant Panthers coach), said there are plans for a fall ball team. A trip to Maryland to play in showcase tournaments is being discussed.

Members of this year’s team include two players from Edgewood — Caroline Zeek and Catherine Zeek. Representing Holy Trinity are: Agee; Nicole Grillo; Alexa Grillo; Anna-Katherine Harmon; Hope Valenti; Victoria Nelson and Brianna Ramnath.

There are seven players from Melbourne — Alexia Allen; Emmaleigh Annas; Rachel Deal; Megan Dennis; Brooklynn Pariso and Sarah Rathburn; and Madison Ruqus.

Charlotte Chamberlin, a rising sixth grader is on the team, along with Mallory Marconi of Rockledge, Maeve Chamberlin of Satellite and Delaney Penn of West Shore.

The Viera High contingent consists of: Halfacre; Lia Arbeeny; Caroline Covert; Sophia Del Pozo; Ellie Disciullo; Amy Dukeshire; Gabriella Echevarria; Lexi Fischer; Lindsey Flay; Anabelle Jimenez; Vanna Kasbarian; Anie Kasbarian; Allie Markwerth; Adyson Martinez; Chelsea Paglia; Jordan Raver; Bella Rayha; Lainey Rebola; Alexa Roberts; Soleil Schmidt; Brianna Staerk; Reese Starrett; Breanna Sullivan; Sophia Wargo and Madison West.

With the opportunity to get the kind of coaching that will make not only players, but Brevard County teams, better it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Panthers’ program continue to grow in the coming years.

“I think anytime you have a team or a program, like this one, it’s extremely encouraging to girls who are committed to playing at the high school level,” Rafferty said. “It just shows them there are opportunities to play at the collegiate level as well.”

For more information on the Panthers, go to Brevardlax.com.

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