Lance Tollefson, a 2011 graduate of Runge High School, is a lacrosse athlete that is bringing his athletic skills and abilities to the more intense level of collegiate lacrosse competition. A junior at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Tollefson plays the position of mid-fielder for the Islanders lacrosse team. The Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders lacrosse team is part of the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association (MCLA), and competes in the Lone Star Alliance Division II Conference.
At Runge High, Tollefson was a multi-sport athlete that played football, basketball, tennis, and baseball. Tollefson became interested in the sport of lacrosse when a few of his friends began playing in San Antonio. Since Runge High had no lacrosse team, Tollefson joined the lacrosse club team at James Madison High School in San Antonio during his sophomore year.
Lacrosse is a sport that is almost a thousand years old, and was invented by Native American tribes in the United States and Canada. Lacrosse was more than just a sport or past time to the native tribes. Lacrosse was used to train and toughen-up young native warriors for the intense and deadly realities of actual tribal warfare. Lacrosse was also considered a sacred religious performance and rite of many of the tribes.
French Catholic missionaries to North America, observing the unique sport in the 17th century, called the sport “lacrosse”, which means “the stick” in French.
The lacrosse stick is the long, hand-held apparatus with a small net at the tip at one end, which lacrosse players use to catch, pass, maneuver, and throw a ball into an opposing team’s goal
Tollefson attests to the toughness and physical rigors of his chosen sport, as lacrosse involves intense physical contact and impact between players, which make the protective equipment such as helmets, shoulder pads, and gloves necessary in the sport.
Aside from the often rough physical contact, lacrosse players also exert themselves by having to sprint up and down the field during a competition, while at the same time having to maintain a very high level of hand-eye coordination with the lacrosse stick and ball.
“The most challenging aspect of lacrosse would have to be getting accustomed to the amount of intense physical activity,” said Tollefson of the tough physicality of college lacrosse competition and training. “Playing collegiate lacrosse is a different experience compared to playing in high school; it’s a new learning curve.”
The collegiate lacrosse season began in late January and the Islanders so far have a winning record of 3-1 for this season, most recently defeating Abilene Christian University on Saturday by a score of 15-10. Tollefson will take to the field again with the Islanders on March 29 against St. Edward’s University in Austin.
Tollefson shares his desire to see the sport of lacrosse expand and become more popular in the United States and beyond.
“I would like to see lacrosse flourish in the U.S. to the point where it can be showed on ESPN regularly, and where you can see young kids in the street playing with Lacrosse sticks as well as with basketballs and footballs,” he said.
Tollefson recalls among his favorite memories of Runge as being together with family during Christmas and Easter celebrations. Tollefson still has family in Runge and enjoys their support of his athletic endeavors.
“We are beyond proud of our son,” said his mother, Eva Tollefson. “He has managed a full-time college schedule, is a member of the TAMUCC music program and now the lacrosse team. We have always told him there is nothing you can’t do when you set your mind on it. Always have a goal, and to never look back. We walk forward, not backward. We are just so proud of the man he is becoming.”
Lance Tollefson relates that his athletic experience has taught him so much more than physical aspects, and relates how sport and competition can be some of the greatest teachers of life, mental toughness, and revealing character.
“Being in sports has taught me to always persevere, to strive for the best,” he said. “I’ve shaped my everyday life around personal values I’ve learned while being in sports.”