Hollister Hawgs play their final games of the season May 20

3 youth lacrosse teams have had an uneven but fun season.
Julian Blumbergs. Photo by Robert Eliason.
Colton Oswald. Photo by Robert Eliason.
The HAWGS. Photo by Robert Eliason.

As the 2023 lacrosse season winds down, the Hollister Hawgs will compete in two final games on May 20, starting at 10 a.m. at the multiuse field at Hollister High School. Head coach Todd Blumbergs, who founded the Hawgs in 2018, said he believes the three teams that make up the Hawgs have done a great job this year.

“Our 10U [10 years and under] team had its best year ever, with a 15-3 record,” he said. “A lot of those kids were around six years old when they started playing, and now they are nine and 10-year-olds, so they’ve got a few years behind them.”

One of the 10U players is Blumbergs’ 10-year-old son Julian, who picked the game up from his father at a very early age. He gives the credit for his team’s success to his fellow players.

“We have a lot of talented people who just love to come out here and play well,” he said. “They don’t goof around, and they know what to do. We have good physicality, really good stick skills, and we are able to get by other people and score.”

The Hawgs also field 12U and 14U teams which were not quite as successful—both finishing 9-8—but Blumbergs is still very proud of them.

“We had a lot of successful players on both teams,” he said. “And we are just happy there were enough players to be able to have the two teams.”

Twelve-year-old Colton Oswald, who plays on the 12U team, says his team’s strengths are their physicality, speed and agility, but is hoping the team will do better next year.

“We are a good team,” he said. “We need more speed, though. I see myself improving as I work harder at practice. We are pretty skilled all around but, you know, everyone can be a little better at every sport.”

Blumbergs began playing lacrosse in New York when he was eight years old and continued through college. In 2000, he moved to California and became an award-winning coach, helping to transform the Woodside High School lacrosse players into a varsity team. After leading the Menlo School Knights to the championships, he served as an assistant coach to the Latvian team and followed them to the 2006 World Lacrosse games in London, Ontario.

“Lacrosse is just kind of written in my DNA,” he said. “So when I realized that there was no youth program in town here, I just felt the need to start one.”

Lacrosse is based on a form of mock warfare conducted by North American Indian tribes in Eastern Canada. It was later modified—made less violent—by Jesuit missionaries. It’s fast-moving and, according to Blumbergs, resembles several games at once.

“It’s a dynamic sport,” he said. “When we’re going up and down the field, it can resemble a cross between soccer and ice hockey. When you are settled in a half-field set, the offense and defense look a lot like five-on-five basketball.”

Lacrosse requires a lot of attention, even from spectators, as the small ball is passed from player to player, easily eluding the eye.

“It can be complex for beginners,” Julian Blumbergs said, “but it’s fun when you know what to do and how to do it. I’d say the toughest part of lacrosse is getting everything down right and then doing it right every time. It can be complex—you’re always moving, and you can’t always remember everything to each part of it. But once you get it, it’s really great for you.”

Blumbergs said that his coaching philosophy is “The right way from the first day,” and spending a lot of time drilling on fundamentals.

“We really really go hard on things like hand-eye coordination, repetition and muscle memory,” he said, “but at the same time, we just want to let the kids be athletes. Our goal is to get them to want to understand the game a little bit and build a lacrosse IQ on the field. If you give me a kid,  I’ll get him suited up in lacrosse equipment and, in a week, he will be out there running around with his friends”

The HAWGS are currently holding signups for their fifth annual Youth Lacrosse Camp, which will take place from July 24-27 at the Hollister High School multi-purpose field. The cost is $75 for players from six to eight years old, with all equipment provided, and $150 for nine to 14-year-olds. Limited equipment is available for new players only.


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Robert Eliason

I got my start as a photographer when my dad stuck a camera in my hand on the evening of my First Grade Open House. He taught me to observe, empathize, then finally compose the shot.  The editors at BenitoLink first approached me as a photographer. They were the ones to encourage me to write stories about things that interest me, turning me into a reporter as well.  BenitoLink is a great creative family that cares deeply about the San Benito community and I have been pleased to be a part of it.