Greg Longo needed four seasons.
In the first season of Hernando Lacrosse Club, one team didn't even have enough players to have a substitution line. In fact, the Crusaders had only 10 players.
They needed 13 for a complete lineup.
"Now that we're more established," said Longo, who started the program based out of Spring Hill, "now that we're entering our fourth season, the kids that were playing for us in middle school are now moving up and making a full team."
With the fourth season starting in January, Longo says that for the first time, he will actually be able to field and schedule a season for a JV team. HLC has age divisions starting at age 6, and for the time, fielding girls teams that need participants.
However at that young age, the players don't have games, instead focusing on learning the basics.
"The growth (of the sport) is more of a nationwide thing, but it has become more localized here," Longo said. "This is a very fast-paced game, and kids really open up to it because it pulls a lot of different skills from a lot of different sports."
HLC is part of the West Florida Lacrosse League, which has teams all over the bay area, including in Wesley Chapel, Tampa and in Pinellas County.
There are no in-school club teams in Hernando County.
That's what HCL is for, and Longo just hopes new players keep up the demand for teams and keep growing the popularity of the sport.
"I want the players to grow," Longo said. "Really, we have an opportunity to get what I saw when I came here to get this going. At first we didn't even have a place to play or teams to play, and while Tampa is behind (in lacrosse growth), we're getting there and the younger ones will have even more opportunities."
For more information on the club, call the Hernando County Recreation Department at (352) 754-4031 or e-mail Longo at [email protected] or go to www.hernandolacrosseclub.com.