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Lacrosse: Van Sloun brings youth, experience to Raptors

Steve Van Sloun is getting ready to take over as head coach of East Ridge boys' lacrosse this spring. (Submitted photo)

Steve Van Sloun discovered a knack for coaching at a young age while playing varsity lacrosse at Bloomington Kennedy High School.

The 2011 high school graduate picked up the sport of lacrosse as a seventh-grader thanks to the urging of a friend. While Van Sloun had plenty of experience by the time he was in high school, many of his varsity teammates were relatively new to the sport.

In response, Van Sloun was required to take what he described as a coaching role during his time at Bloomington Kennedy.

"I think it really kind of made me appreciate the impact that coaches can have," Van Sloun said in a phone interview last week. "I think our high school coaches did a great job of teaching everyone the game in a short period of time. I thought we did better than most would expect with a team that hadn't played as much. It really kind of made me want to be a coach in that sense."

Van Sloun is taking over as the head coach of the East Ridge boys' lacrosse program this spring. The school recently announced his hiring.

While the position will be Van Sloun's first high school head coaching job, the soon-to-be 24-year-old has a resume full of experience. He is an assistant coach with the University of Minnesota men's lacrosse club, a program he played for until he graduated in 2015.

Van Sloun speaks highly of the transition the program has made since his early years as a player with the Minnesota program.

"It has grown to a point now where we treat it as a NCAA sport," Van Sloun said. "We have a roster of 45 players, we practice a lot more, we travel a lot more, and we've become a lot more competitive over the last six years that I've been involved."

Van Sloun has grown familiar with many Woodbury area lacrosse coaches during his time at the University of Minnesota. Former East Ridge head coach Aime Caines, who resigned from the position about a month ago, has coached with the University of Minnesota in the past. Former Woodbury head coach Rich Limpert is the current head coach of the Gophers program.

East Ridge activities director Joel Olson said Van Sloun's experience in coaching was a major draw for the Raptors.

"We just had a real good feeling from Steve in that he's played for and coached for the U of M club team," Olson said. "He has a really good handle on the Xs and Os with lacrosse."

Van Sloun even has high school coaching experience as a member of the varsity staff at Bloomington Kennedy for three seasons. After taking a year off from the high school game, Van Sloun said he was itching to get involved once again.

"I really kind of missed coaching high school," he said. "It was a fun age to coach."

Van Sloun said East Ridge's active booster club and youth association were also positives he saw in the head coach position with the Raptors.

"The school gives it a lot of support," Van Sloun said. "It is just a great program to come into. It is valued, it is important, and there is a lot of positive momentum."

Minnesota high school lacrosse programs are allowed to start team practices April 3.

Blaze Fugina

Blaze Fugina is the sports editor of the Woodbury and South Washington County Bulletin newspapers. Previously, Blaze worked as a sports editor for the Pierce County Herald and a sports reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in May of 2011. You can follow Blaze on Twitter at @BlazeFugina.

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