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Hoover Sun Article

posted Jun 15, 2016, 11:51 AM by Bill Wittig
For Wittig, game becomes a way of life
From Hoover Sun May 31, 2016

Bill Wittig’s introduction to lacrosse began by calling the number on a roadside sign advertising the sport in the spring of 2007. The first game he witnessed was soon after when his son played on the U11 team — the Shades Valley Lizards — advertised on the sign.

The unexpected introduction to the sport eventually turned into a way of life for the Wittig family. Not only have summers been filled with travel lacrosse, but they also took a family vacation to watch the Lacrosse World Championship in Denver in the summer of 2014.

 “I was just looking for something for the kids to do in the spring,” Wittig said. “They didn’t seem all that interested in soccer. They never really were into baseball or anything. We were just looking for something else to get involved in.”

Both his sons — Jake and John — played lacrosse at the youth level. John, his youngest son, just concluded his high school career for Hoover High School. Bill Wittig has been heavily involved throughout. 

He served as an assistant coach when Hoover formed a U13 team in 2008 and became a head coach the following season. His roles in the Hoover High lacrosse program have been varied and thorough. He served as a coach in the program, including serving as the junior varsity head coach, and is currently the president of the Hoover Lacrosse Board.

Wittig also played an instrumental role in helping the Bucs program take an important step. The program celebrated its 10th anniversary this year and has enjoyed success throughout. The Bucs won state titles in 2008, 2009 and 2010 and claimed another in 2013. But, it wasn’t until this year that the program has officially been recognized as a club at the school.

“It does give us a little more standing in the school,” Wittig said. “The guys get their (team) picture in the yearbook, we can meet together during school hours during club day and be included in (school) communication. And it has given us more access to the facilities.”

Just as exciting to everyone involved in the sport is the growth of lacrosse throughout the Birmingham metro in approximately the past 10 years. 

Wittig said that 175 kids were registered for the sport in 2005. The number of kids — boys and girls — participating in the Greater Birmingham Youth Lacrosse Association grew to 1,100 participants in 2010, 1,500 in 2015 and more than 1,600 this spring.

State championships aren’t awarded for the youngest divisions. Those teams participate in a jamboree at the conclusion of the regular season. In all other divisions, playoffs are held. Spain Park High School won the state Division I title — beating Vestavia Hills in the championship game. Hoover teams won state titles in the Boys Middle School Division and Girls Grades 6-8 Division and lost in the U13 championship game. 

Hopefully the numbers and success will continue to grow, perhaps for the same reasons that the Wittig family fell in love with the sport.

“It’s a great combination of lots of different sports,” Wittig said. “It’s got the physicality of football. It’s a contact sport but not a collision sport. In other words, the object of the game is not to hit the guy but you can hit him in the course of playing. It’s got some of the speed of basketball and hockey and some of the skills of a lot of other sports. They call it the fastest game on two feet.”

For the first time since 2007, Wittig won’t have a son playing the sport at on a GBYLA team. 

“Hopefully, I’ll retain a role on the Hoover Lacrosse Board,” Wittig said. “I don’t know if I’ll be president or not. I’m still kind of hopeful that my son [John] will end up playing on the Auburn club team so I can go watch him play. I’ll help out whenever I can [to] help keep lacrosse growing.”