New year, high hopes

Expectations soar for boys lacrosse


Grant Carli

A new season awaits Wilsonville boys’ lacrosse. What they can expect: tougher competition, greater success, and sick new helmets.

Rebuilding: that was the theme of last year’s season for boys’ lacrosse at Wilsonville High School. The program was on its last legs after a disastrous 2021 season where they had only 1 win to show for their efforts. 2022 witnessed a change in coaching and a change in fortunes for Wilsonville, reviving the program from the brink of death and building a solid foundation on which it now stands.

Much of that credit is owed to Coach Neal Bateman. He took over the head coaching role last year and has high hopes for his second season at Wilsonville. “The theme for the team this year is do the work,” Coach Neal stated. “Last year was about culture, finding ways to coexist as a team, this year is about putting our heads down and getting after it.”

‘Do the work’ has become the team’s motto, a simple but strong message that highlights Coach Neal’s affinity for effort and dedication from his players. “Basically we want the boys to be dedicating their time on and off the field to getting better, just getting the work done so we can accomplish our goals.”

Apart from the motto, Coach Neal has 3 rules which define the culture of the team. “Rule 1 is simply just be on time, which to us means early, Rule 2 is don’t complain, we don’t want players to whine, we want them to be dedicated to improving themselves, and lastly Rule 3 is care.” For Coach Neal what it means to care about the program is to put in that work, “When you do that it shows that you care about yourself, you care about the team, and you care about our success.”

On the subject of what Wilsonville lacrosse means to Coach Neal, he said that “This program means a lot to me, it’s the first time I’ve ever taken on something like this as a solo head coach, I’ve also taken over the youth program, so for me this is about growing Wilsonville Lacrosse as a whole, not just the high school level.” In his closing remarks, Coach Neal stated he is “excited for where we will go” and their “goal is top 24 in the state so we can make state playoffs.”

A player who embodies that ‘do the work’ motto is Eli Nelson, a junior and a first team all league attackman. Eli is an extremely strong player who leads by example in both game skills and attitude. When asked about why the culture of Wilsonville Lacrosse appeals to him, he responded “Wilsonville lacrosse is like a family…we are all sort of brothers that have each other’s backs.” Eli is most excited about “all the games we have leading up to spring break and the competition we are facing this year. We also got our new helmets which are pretty cool. I think things like that make people excited to be part of the team.”

Eli’s expectations for the 2023 season mirror Coach Neal’s in many ways. “My expectation this year is to be a winning team. I think that we could easily have a positive record with the new additions to the team, and our coach is one of the smartest in Oregon.” When Eli was asked about an individual goal for himself this season, he stated that “I think a lot of people think our team is very one or two person based, so personally I want to be better at leading the team as well as putting up better numbers than last year.” Eli’s focus on strong leadership and building off his foundation aligns perfectly with Coach Neal’s style of coaching. We are very excited to see what Eli Nelson can do for Wilsonville lacrosse this season.

Though the expectations for Wilsonville boys’ lacrosse are high, the team is ready to rise to the occasion. Whether it’s going above .500, putting up a strong performance in league, or making it to the state playoffs, the boys are determined to achieve it. It all starts now, with doing the work.