Atom Smashers learning lacrosse on the fly

Johnson playing first varsity season with no experienced players

Atom Smashers learning lacrosse on the fly
Two Johnson players fight for the ball during Monday's practice.

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Some say the best way to learn is by doing.

The Johnson Atom Smashers lacrosse team will find that out this season on the field.

Atom Smashers learning lacrosse on the fly

The newest program in Thunderbolt is also brand new to the sport: None of the team’s players entered this inaugural season with any previous lacrosse experience.

“I had heard of it, but I had never played it,” says senior attacker Vincent Montgomery.

“We had no players that had ever touched a lacrosse stick,” head coach Jabari Bryant remembers about the team’s first practice.

Yet here the Smashers are, spending their very first season learning on the fly.

“It’s a different game," laughs Bryant. "Watching the guys try to field ground ball and catch the ball out of the air has been fun. It’s fun to watch them learn.”

The inaugural Johnson team has no players with previous lacrosse experience.
The inaugural Johnson team has no players with previous lacrosse experience. (WTOC)

Bryant has some lacrosse experience from playing the game in college. He’s also the defensive coordinator for the Atom Smashers football team. He says he thought the sport would be a good avenue for those on the football team who didn’t want to run track in the spring.

Bryant thought the fast pace and contact elements of the sport would appeal to those trying to stay in shape for the fall.

He was right. Many of the players say the contact is their favorite part of the game so far.

“I don’t play when I’m on the field,” says junior defender Xavier Brown. “If a player comes to my side, they’re most likely not going to score.”

The experience deficit isn’t the only challenge the Smashers have faced starting their program.

“We’ve only had sticks for a month, month and a half,” Bryant notes. “We just got our goal a week ago.”

He says the area’s other lacrosse coaches and organizations have been more than willing to donate equipment or their time and knowledge to help get the program off the ground.

Johnson is 0-2 this season, but head coach Jabari Bryant says the team is further along than he expected them to be.
Johnson is 0-2 this season, but head coach Jabari Bryant says the team is further along than he expected them to be. (WTOC)

Bryant says his team may not fit the “prep school, cardigan sweater” mold of a stereotypical lacrosse team, but he does believe his team’s addition to the sport’s landscape will only help it grow in southeast Georgia.

“This is a sport that we can play and we can excel at, that our kids can do great in," he says. "That’s the biggest thing: just making the sport our own.”

Unsurprisingly, the Atom Smashers are winless in their first season. Through two games, they’ve been outscored 33-4. But Bryant says the team is further along than he thought they would be at this point.

And he believes the team is having fun and learning to love the game.

That, Bryant says, is all he can ask for this spring.

The Smashers know experience is only gained by doing, and they plan on making the most of this experience.

“Just us playing together as a team and as a family, I think it’s just helped us grow," says Montgomery. "We’re going to become better. By the end of this year, we’re going to be able to compete with most teams.”

Johnson plays two road games this week. They visit May River on Tuesday before facing Benedictine on Thursday.

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