The Rolesville boys lacrosse program is in the middle of its second full season after beginning three years ago as just a JV squad with six games on its schedule. Last season, there was just a varsity team, and this year is the first to feature both a varsity and JV team.
Coach J.J. Mokan is tasked with developing his players for success on the field, but off it as well.
“Fifteen years from now, if these kids are still talking about their wins and losses in high school, then I really haven’t taught them anything,” said Mokan. “We’re trying to teach them that hard work and determination for an entire game translates into the real world, where if you want to go into something, whether it be a job or project for a job, and you only half do it, then you’re not going to have the results that you want. We try to use sports as a way to teach them more about not just the sport itself but how to grow up to be young men.”
The Rams finished year one 2-13 and are currently 0-12 this season with just three of the games having been decided by less than five goals. In a 12-8 loss on the road to Wake Forest, the Rams outscored their opponent 5-2 in the second half, and at one point scored four straight goals.
Though the losses keep piling up, Mokan sees the progress that has been made.
“I think it has to do with mental toughness. If you’re losing game in and game out, sometimes it’s against teams that have guys who have been playing for five, six, or seven years. And some of these guys have been starting for one year,” Mokan said. “If you’re going to focus on the fact that you’re losing every single game, instead of the progress you’re making, then your mental toughness in those close games isn’t going to be there.”
The Rams lacrosse team has received support, and the students have come out to start a brand new chapter in Rams athletics.
The number of players in the program has increased year-by-year.
“A lot of times it’s just fun to look at the number of guys we have out here. The very first year we had 24 (players) on the roster. Last year we had about 32 with one team. This year we’ve got two teams with 20-plus players on them,” Mokan said. “So watching guys that are young in the sport come out and play, and watching them get better as the games go, and seeing how much fun they can have when they are doing things right – it’s a lot of fun for us as coaches because it means we’re doing our job.”