Boys’ lacrosse prepares for opening game

New coaching staff sets guidelines, goals


Harrison Barden

Senior Jeff Rounds passes to a teammate during a practice April 8 at the stadium. The Orioles hit the field against Hopkins at 6:30 p.m. April 15 at Hopkins High School.

Ethan Brown

Junior captain Brody Ilstrup grabs a ball with his lacrosse stick, slinging another shot toward the goal in preparation for a new season and a new coach.

Ilstrup, a member of Star Tribune’s all-metro team last season, said the coaching change to current head coach Chris Bixby came as a surprise.

“I was shocked that our coach was leaving us because of the experiences I’ve had with him,” Ilstrup said. “But I think it’s for the best, and I’m very excited to see how it all plays out.”

Bixby said he plans to emphasize being versatile people instead of just lacrosse players.

“The number one thing for us is that these students are student athletes,” Bixby said. “We want them to be good student-athletes, good citizens and good lacrosse players.”

Sophomore Ryan Lee, now entering his second year on Park’s team, said he looks forward to the opportunity to learn under a new coach.

“Last season was very different because nothing felt very well-structured,” Lee said. “This season’s staff gives us a lot more room for improvement.”

Bixby praised Ilstrup and senior captain Philip Wagner for helping the coaching change transition smoothly.

“At the end of the day I’m brand new to this program,” Bixby said. “The captains, Brody and Phil, have really taken leadership roles to understand what’s been working in the past (and) what really makes St. Louis Park unique.”

Ilstrup said the coaching change hasn’t flowed perfectly, but he sees the team beginning to appreciate the new staff.

“Some of the players are very skeptical,” Ilstrup said. “But I think they’re starting to like (the coaches) and are becoming much more open with them.”

Bixby said he hopes to cultivate a new form of ambition within his players, and believes success will follow.

“The number one thing is that we want to provide a structure for the kids to excel,” Bixby said. “One thing we’re really trying to instill and create (in the players) is generating a culture of competition.”

Lee said his expectations for the upcoming season are higher earlier seasons, and attributes the excitement in practice to the new coaching staff.

“I think this season is going to bring a lot more success,” Lee said. “There’s a much more professional atmosphere in practices. Things are looking up.”