Roy Reynolds, the team’s community coach, didn’t want a repeat performance in 2014, so he got to work early.
Reynolds decided to start with some of the core members of the Cherokee lacrosse team. From there, he added some players from around the area that he had coached in the past, ranging in age from seventh-graders to recent high school graduates. Some were players at Etowah, while others came from Walton, Kell or North Cobb.
“What I wanted to do was keep the Cherokee High School girls together because they needed more work together,” Reynolds said. “I picked a bunch of players I knew and had coached before that could push the Cherokee girls and make them better.”
With a dozen practice sessions together, the Cherokee Tomahawks, as they were named, came together as a team.
“When we started, out we had 26 girls,” Reynolds said. “We had a few fall by the wayside, but I think, in the end, we had 22 girls. It turned out to be an excellent mix. They all jelled nicely and are good friends. It was a fun time.”
Reynolds and former Walton goalkeeper Megan Smith teamed up to coach the team. Reynolds signed the Tomahawks up for three tournaments over the summer, and the team posted a 14-2 record.
The Tomahawks went 6-0 in their final tournament to win the 19U division of the Suwanee River Showdown. They also advanced to the semifinals of the Southern Champions Cup — the first event they entered — and the Star Spangled Shootout in Alpharetta.
While this was the first summer for the Tomahawks, Reynolds plans to keep the team alive next summer.
“They all kept their uniforms,” Reynolds said. “We will pick it up next summer. It was a good time. It was fun and they enjoyed it. It was especially good for the Cherokee girls to bond and play.”
Reynolds said it was easy to see how much all the players improved through the summer, both as individuals and as a team.
“We played a couple of teams in tournaments that (Cherokee High School) had lost to in the regular season and we ended up beating them in the tournament,” Reynolds said. “They made tremendous progress over the season.”
Members of the Cherokee High School team who were also a part of the Tomahawks included Anna Lee Stone, Brianna Lipham, Kaci Ried, Emily Lockaby, Maddy Morrison, Claire Dunlap, Caitlin Hobbs, Olivia Nechtvatal, Jordan Cox, Zoe Callaro, Ashley Holton, Alexis Wemmer, Tess Allen, Morgan Sigler, Ashley Seal and Daniella Singleton.
Etowah’s Alexia Audet was also on the team.
Reynolds said that while some of the players may be competing in other sports such as volleyball or softball this fall, many decided to join a fall league together.
“Many of them have decided that they want to stay together and keep this thing rolling,” Reynolds said. “It makes me feel very proud. Considering where they were at the start of this thing, we are a whole different ball club. They are playing mature, intelligent, legitimate lacrosse, so I’m very proud of them.”
Even those who won’t be playing together at Cherokee next spring were able to take something away from the experience as Reynolds said everyone became a better player through the competition. Several were also contacted by colleges over the course of the summer.
“All the girls improved their individual and team play as they met the challenges we threw at them,” Reynolds said.
Cherokee hasn’t announced who its coach will be for the upcoming season, but Reynolds said the school will have a team.
“We aren’t letting this thing die out,” he said. “We are going to have a strong spring.”