Published: Jul 03, 2012 07:00 PM
Modified: Jul 03, 2012 05:13 PM
The Carolina Hilltopper Lacrosse program has started with great success.
Comprising an Elite team and a Varsity team — both with high school aged players — and a U-13 travel team, the Hilltopper program was founded this past school year by former Guilford College assistant and East Chapel Hill head coach Franklin Zirkle. They have been practicing in Graham since early May.
The U-13 Chapel Hilltoppers team recently won their division at the Charlotte Summer Slam and then won the Wilmington Blaze at the Beach.
In late June, the Hilltopper Elite went to the King of the Hill tournament in Maryland, part of one of the nation’s top recruiting camps, and defeated Next Level’s Maryland Select team in McDaniel College’s stadium in front of multiple college coaches from Johns Hopkins and elsewhere.
In mid-May, the Elites advanced to the semifinals in Richmond against top regional teams. In Charlotte, the team finished with a winning record against established programs from Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia.
“Coach Z” as he is known to many of his current and former players, has drawn talent to the program from an area that spans Winston-Salem to Wake County.
“We want to be the best lacrosse team along the I-40 Corridor and take this talent to traditional hotbed areas of lacrosse like Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York State,” Zirkle said. “If we are going to travel that far, we are going with the purpose of winning games and tournaments while giving our players greater exposure.”
There is a strong representation of Chapel Hill players, including Chapel Hill High’s Peter Norwood, Paul Miller, Grant Deselm, Anders Haaland and Hank Bolon; Carrboro High School’s Sam Parker; Cedar Ridge’s Zach Roby and Cole Churchill; and East Chapel Hill’s Baxter Perkins, Daniel Wittekind, Hartford Zirkle, Campbell Johnston, and Dylan Shaw. Other schools represented include Cardinal Gibbons, with Zander Lim of Chapel Hill, plus Durham Jordan, Durham Riverside, Raleigh’s Millbrook and Athens Drive, Oxford Webb, Northwest Guilford, Northern Guilford and Winston-Salem Regan High School.
The Hilltoppers will participate in the highly regarded Champ Camp in mid-July and then wind down the summer program in Buck’s County, Penn., for the Patriot Games.
The Elite Team is coached by Guilford College’s top assistant Coach, Nate Bates, who also coaches Chandler Zirkle, a former standout at East Chapel Hill High School. Bates and Guilford’s Head Coach Tom Carmean have directed a huge turnaround in the Division III Quaker program.
“I jumped at the opportunity to lead this team,” Bates said. “We have some great talent in this area and with enough practice and emphasis on the fundamentals, there is no reason why we cannot play at a very high level in the top recruiting tournaments. … With our practices in Graham, we have made it possible for all of our players to attend college level practices an hour or less from their homes.”
The Varsity Program will attend one more tournament in Ferrum, Va., in July.
The U-13 Chapel Hilltoppers team is coached by Jacob Manning, a former East assistant and current Athens Drive defensive coordinator, and Daniel Thayer, a former Mary Washington player and local educator. The Chapel Hilltoppers have players from Culbreth, Sewell, Phillips, Stanback, Pollard, St. Thomas Moore, and other local area middle schools. W.E. Warnock
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