When the Lacrosse Association of Kansas City playoffs get under way this evening, the Shawnee Mission Patriots won’t be taking the field. But the 2017 season did represent something of a milestone for the program.
For years, the team had operated under the name “SM South Raiders.” Because lacrosse is a club sport in the Kansas City area, played outside the organization of school districts, the Raiders team actually drew players from several area schools, not just SM South, with large contingents coming from SM West and Bishop Miege in recent years.
In the off season, the team’s board considered the idea of rebranding the team to account for the fact that it included players from every Shawnee Mission high school except SM East (which drew enough players to have its own team, the Lancers, the defending LAKC champs who play in the quarterfinals this evening against Northland at 5:45 at SM East). The vote was unanimous.
“Part of it was wanting to make sure that the players didn’t feel like they were playing for South if they went to other schools,” said Tom Weise, the president of the team’s board and the father of a player who attends Bishop Miege. “We had kids who go to West who would walk down the halls in green and yellow and white Raiders gear and they’d get grief. We started to think that rebranding the whole team might make the most sense.”
The board narrowed the possibilities down to a few names and held a vote. Patriots, with a new red, white and blue color scheme, was the clear winner. All the players, whether from SM North, South, West or Northwest or Bishop Miege, would have a unifying identify the could share.
Scott Sadick, a SM South graduate who is now the team’s coach, said the change represented an important shift in mindset for the club.
“Prior to the name change many students from schools other than Shawnee Mission South, felt less loyalty to the program due to the fact that they weren’t from ‘South’ and had no affiliation with the Raiders,” he said. “It even drove kids away from the program because they felt like they would not be well represented in the program. We made the decision to rebrand and it went hand in hand with the new culture I brought to the program, which has been successful both on and off the field.”
The varsity club, which hadn’t won a game in four years, finally broke its streak with a win against Andover earlier this year. And the junior varsity club went 9-4 on the year.
“That’s the best win total [for JV] we’ve had in many years,” Weise said. “It does feel like there’s some more positive momentum. It was a nice reset button. That doesn’t always mean you’re going to have success. But now at least you’ve got an identity kids from all five schools can get behind.”