The lacrosse team at Highland Park High School in Dallas is an integral part of a storied athletic program.
Which actually isn’t true.
Yes, the program is a storied one.
And you got a sense of just how storied only a few months ago.
It was highlighted then that one recent Scots football team had featured a future three-time Cy Young Award winner playing center under a future Super Bowl-winning quarterback.
Better yet, during baseball season, the future Cy Young winner’s catcher was the future Super Bowl-winning quarterback.
But even before Matthew Stafford and Clayton Kershaw took the field together for Highland Park, another pair of Scots had joined forces on Stafford’s former N.F.L team, the Detroit Lions.
Former Scots Bobby Layne and Doak Walker won two N.F.L. Championship games with the Lions.
The second championship came way back in 1953.
And between the pairing of Walker and Layne, and then Stafford and Kershaw, Highland Park began playing lacrosse.
Since then, the school has produced some of the all-time best lacrosse players from Texas.
And though it’s clearly part of the school’s winning sports culture—and has won 7 Texas state championships– the lacrosse team is still not part of the school’s athletic program,
How could that be?
Highland Park Lacrosse and Texas
The Texas High School Lacrosse League has been holding an annual state tournament in lacrosse since the late1980’s.
And for a decade at least, there’s been a campaign to gain official recognition of the sport from the state of Texas.
In 2016, the director of the University Interscholastic League, the body that controls sanctioning at the high school level in Texas, declared that it was “not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.”
Unfortunately, he was referring to water polo.
And, as predicted, water polo has since been sanctioned; the prospects for lacrosse aren’t nearly as promising.
In its last consideration of lacrosse, also in 2016, only 19% of the Texas school surveyed by the UIL favored sanctioning.
All of which leaves a number of lacrosse programs at public high schools like Highland Park in a gray area familiar to those in other states where sanctioning has still not taken place.
The lacrosse team does not receive public funding, so it must operate as a self-financed club team.
Which is not to say that the program is ignored.
Highland Park’s Chris Hipps, would go on to be an All-American at Duke and become, in 2013, the first Texan to play on a NCAA lacrosse D1 championship team.
But Hipps also played a sport that not only the UIL but every living being in the state of Texas also tends to embrace: football.
In his senior year at Highland Park alone, Hipps recorded 86 receptions—more than any high school player in the entire Dallas-Fort Worth area—for 1,580 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Despite his D1-calibre football chops, one of his friends told the Dallas Morning News, revealingly, “…Around school, Chris is recognized as a lacrosse player.”
Highland Park Lacrosse and Division 1
There are 99 Texans on 2022 D1 college lacrosse rosters.
10 of those are graduates of Highland Park.
Which might not sound like such an impressive percentage.
What is impressive is the caliber of the programs they’ve infiltrated.
Four, for instance, are playing with premier ACC teams, including Owen Seebold at Syracuse, and Cade Saustad, who has starred at defense at Virginia on two consecutive national championship teams.
(So, in past five years alone, Highland Park High School can now claim winners of a Super Bowl, a World Series, and two NCAA D1 lacrosse national championships.)
Beyond Chris Hipps, other former Scots who excelled in the upper reaches of D1 lacrosse include Penn State’s Colby Kneese and Georgetown’s Chris Walker.
Highland Park Lacrosse… and Football
Another hallmark of the Highland Park athletic tradition has been playing multiple sports (and this goes back to Doak Walker, who was on 5 teams at the school).
Like Hipps, Saustad had also excelled in football, capping his high school career with three touchdowns and 200 yards in receptions in the Scots’ victory in the 2017 Texas 5A state championship game.
This tradition extends back to two of the earliest D1 recruits from Highland Park: Charley and John Dickenson.
En route to college careers at Denver in 2006, the Dickenson twins played in an inaugural All-Star game. The game had been promoted with the seemingly dim hope of becoming “lacrosse’s version of the annual McDonald’s All-America game.”
And Charley scored twice.
In contrast to Hipps (6’4, 220) and Saustad (6’5, 200), the 5’7 twins might’ve seemed like unlikely football specimens.
In fact, they had been receivers at Highland Park—and targets for the team’s quarterback: Matthew Stafford.
Highland Park High School Graduates on 2022 Division 1 Lacrosse Rosters
Parker Alexander, North Carolina, Senior, Midfield
Owen Seebold, Syracuse, Senior, Attack
Thomas Mencke, Virginia, Freshman, Attack
Cade Saustad, Virginia, RS-Junior, Defense
Gabe Galbraith, Ohio State, Junior, Defense
Brooks Bond, Delaware, Freshman, Midfield
Kyle Massimilian, Harvard, Senior, Midfield
Andrew Stanzel, Bucknell, Junior, Defense
Jake Jent, Lafayette, Freshman, Midfield
Anthony Ghobriel, Navy, Freshman, Face-off
Some Past Highland Park Division 1 College Lacrosse Players
B.J. Fritts, St, Joseph’s ’06
Bob Wellington, Duke ’08
Tommy Shuey, Hofstra ’08
Matthew Fritts, Villanova ’09
Charley Dickenson, Denver ’10
John Dickenson, Denver ’10
William Lawson, Denver ’12
Chris Hipps, Duke ’14
Dillon Zweiffel, Jacksonville ’14
Campbell Sode, Rutgers ’15
Patrick Campbell, Dartmouth ’15
Robert Mencke, Harvard ’18
Colby Kneese, Penn State ’21
Chris Walker, Georgetown ’21
David Parry is the founder and editor of LaxAcrossAmerica. A New York-based digital marketer and copywriter, he played Division 1 lacrosse as a walk-on at Brown.