A condensed version of this story appeared in the Mid-Atlantic edition of the April issue of US Lacrosse Magazine. Don't get the print edition? Become a US Lacrosse member today and help support the positive development of the sport.

In late September, on a cold and rainy Saturday morning in Jackson Hole, Wyo., history was made for lacrosse in the state. After a nearly seven-hour cross-state drive from Cheyenne to Jackson Hole, the girls’ high school team from the Cheyenne Youth Lacrosse Club (CYLC) faced the girls’ team from Jackson Hole Lacrosse Club (JHLC) in what is believed to be the first-ever matchup between two Wyoming girls’ high school lacrosse programs.

CYLC, a US Lacrosse First Stick Program grant recipient, was founded in 2018 by Austin Rodemaker with the mission of growing the sport in Southeastern Wyoming. Rodemaker grew up playing lacrosse in Dillsburg, Pa., before attending the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

During his junior year, Rodemaker, wanting to give back to the sport he grew up loving, began coaching the local U15 program. In his senior year, Rodemaker became an assistant coach and defensive coordinator at Air Academy high school. After graduating and completing his training in California, Rodemaker was stationed in Cheyenne.

Located just over the Colorado-Wyoming border, Rodemaker was surprised to learn that there was not a local lacrosse program, especially with the significant growth the sport had recently seen in Colorado. After polling around town and finding that there was an interest, he officially launched CYLC.

“When I first started playing lacrosse, it was new in my town, so I wanted to provide an opportunity for the kids to try something new and introduce them to a sport they might not have known,” Rodemaker said.

The program first competed in 2019, starting with a girls’ high school team. To ensure the team had enough opportunities to play, CYLC engaged with programs in different states throughout the region to create a schedule.

Before and after the season, CYLC scrimmaged against Colorado-based teams. During the season, the team takes advantage of jamboree-style events, traveling to face teams from states including North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana.

Rodemaker was introduced to JHLC through his interaction with the region’s lacrosse community. JHLC was established in the late 2000s and has grown from just boys’ and girls’ high school teams in 2009 to a program that now includes boys’ and girls’ players as young as 9 years old.

With the tremendous growth JHLC has seen in recent years, there was an opportunity for the two programs to collaborate. When the programs discussed scrimmaging, the foundation was laid for history.

Unfortunately, during the first spring of CYLC, their schedules didn’t align. In order to create a full schedule for its program, JHLC teams, depending on age group, play in leagues based in Utah, Idaho and Montana.

When the chance of a fall ball weekend presented itself, CYLC and JHLC locked it in. Wanting to engage the entire lacrosse community, JHLC hosted three scrimmages for the programs as well as an officials training program, which resulted in seven new girls’ lacrosse referees for the region.

“We are so grateful that [CYLC] traveled all the way here,” Megan Slater, girls director for JHLC, said. “It was a fun weekend. The girls really embraced the fact that this was a true Wyoming game.”

Although history was made for girls’ high school lacrosse that day, it’s only the beginning for the sport in Wyoming.

“We’re building a tight community out here. If you’re in an area that doesn’t have the sport yet but are willing to lead a program, let us know, and we’re happy to help!” Rodemaker said. “I think it’s very close to exploding.”