The History of the Diablo Scorpion Lacrosse Program
In the Winter and Spring of 2000, two families moved from the New Jersey suburbs to the town of Danville, California in the process moving their sons away from the game of lacrosse that they were playing and enjoying in NJ. The Wahrlich’s had older son’s Blake and Pierce (10th grade and 6th grade) while the Matt and Christian Pereira (3rd grade and 2nd grade) were just starting out.
Each of these Dad’s contacted other local programs to register their kids, and were turned away by each of these programs because they were not located in the towns covered by these programs. Both of these Dad’s wondered whether this would be the move that eliminated the sport of lacrosse from their children’s lives. But just like any strong willed parent, who would do anything for their kids, these two did not give up.
Steve Wahrlich and George Pereira each began calling lacrosse representatives in the San Francisco area to find out how to start a program. The lacrosse representatives told them that someone else is trying to do the same thing and they soon connected.
After a great dinner and war stories about their interactions with other local lacrosse programs and their moves from NJ to CA, the 2 agreed that combined they had the ability to create a program of their own. George had left Mountain Lakes NJ where he was coaching the 3rd grade team, and had started a 1/2nd grade program, Steve had left Randolph NJ, was an entrepreneur extreme and was active in the Sports business (SportCourt). They would leverage George’s playing and Coaching experience and Steve’s organizational skills to start a program.
They agreed to start immediately, and Blake Wahrlich a sophomore at San Ramon Valley HS went out and posted flyers for players interested in playing lacrosse at San Ramon, Monte Vista, and Cal High School to sign up. The cost would be the $35 US lacrosse membership. They sourced sticks and equipment from the Northern California Chapter of US Lacrosse and gathered 30 players who practiced for about 6 weeks and concluded the season with a scrimmage against the Acalanes JV team. The team lost 8-3, but the kids were hooked.
Something also happened while they began practicing in Danville, former lacrosse players saw a lacrosse practice and inevitably came over to find out what was going on and help if they could. Steve Reyda (now a Scorpion legend) was one of those coaches. He left his son’s baseball game on an adjacent field and came over introduced himself and asked if they needed help. He began helping immediately and coached, sometimes multiple teams, for 5-6 years thereafter.
This was what lacrosse players were about! They helped their brethren in whatever way they could, that is a tradition that the program now hopes to pass on to their players.
During the Summer of 2000, Steve and George heard that there was another highly acclaimed former player who also lived in Danville and was looking to get involved. George was introduced to Peter Worstell on a Sunday morning in November with the hopes of enticing him into coaching the Scorpion High School Varsity team that was planned for the following Spring. Peter had a stellar playing career as a 4 time All American and held several records at Garden City High School and at the University of Maryland. He also had some coaching experience at places like Moeller High School in Cincinnati and he was looking to help get things started in Danville. He signed up and became the programs first High School Varsity Coach.
The two then started heavily recruiting other coaches and players in the newspapers and by placing flyers in schools. Peter, Steve Wahrlich and George Pereira were also began giving live demonstrations of the game at the local Middle and elementary schools in order to build up interest in the game.
They conducted a fall registration for 6-12th grade players and signed up 150 players.
Coaches included Paul Ferry (JV Head Coach) Adam Lechner (JV Asst Coach) and at the youth level Dave Anderson several great assistant coaches as many parents unfamiliar with the game volunteered to help however they could.
The Official Start of the Diablo Scorpion Lacrosse Program (January 2001)
Up until now the organization was referred to as the San Ramon Valley Lacrosse Team after the San Ramon Valley unified school district.
They officially registered 2 High School teams into the NCJLA and had 70 junior players but did not register a Junior team in the league for 2001. They planned on practicing for half the season and then scheduling scrimmages for the second half. Cody Tatro a teacher at Charlotte Wood Middle School volunteers to teach the girls game and conduct clinics to introduce girls to the game.
What was the first year HS Team’s record?
The first year team was very successful finishing with a 9-7 record and being ranked 41st out of 64 teams in California. The team competed for the Diablo Shootout (A tournament that we created) title and lost in a great game in the finals of the tournament to DeLaSalle HS.
How did the Junior Players perform?
They ended up playing about 10 games and fared very well for a first year team, beating the weaker teams in the league and getting beat by the stronger teams. The level of athleticism was eye opening as their skills and abilities grew quickly. The team was improving with every game it played.
The Fall of 2001
The program begins to hit full stride as Steve Wahrlich obtains more field space and the level of interest begins to soar. Fall indoor lacrosse begins so that players can continue to sharpen their skills in the offseason. Peter, Steve and George continue to present lacrosse demonstrations at the local schools introducing students to this great game.
At the High School level, the California Interscholastic Federation turns lacrosse into an official High School sport for girls and boys that could be sponsored by High Schools. San Ramon Valley High School officially adds Boys and Girls Lacrosse as High School Sports in 2002, and Monte Vista High School added Girls lacrosse as an official sport in 2002, but not Boys.
Since many of the Scorpion players were from Monte Vista High School, the program continues its High School Club program in 2002 with Monte Vista and Cal players. Peter Worstell became the Head Coach at San Ramon Valley High School and Adam Lechner (Head Coach) and Paul Ferry (Asst) became the Scorpion Varsity Coaches. Steve Reyda coached the Junior Varsity Team.
At the youth level, the program added a Girls 6-8th developmental team for the first time headed up by Jill Salkauskas.
Spring Registration has 270 players signed up and 9 separate teams/developmental groups (House teams) are created. Longtime Coaches such as John Demarest, Jeff Eaton, Dave Anderson,Martin Wenzel, Chuck Cadden, Steve Rendle, Guy Morgante, Owen Hennefor, John Wlcek, Bob Mobraaten, Joe Bergman andRick McDonald are added. These coaches enable the continued growth and success of the program as they pass their passion for the game on to their players.
The Scorpion teams have a great campaign as they go from 2 teams in the NCJLA to 7. The program goes from one of the smaller clubs to one of the top 4 in number of teams in 1 year. The Scorpions take their first NCJLA Title capturing the Pups title as the 6th grade team goes 14-1.
The High School program fares Ok this year and continues to improve throughout the season. This core group would become part of the Monte Vista High School program that went on to win 3 NCS Titles in 2004, 5, and 6
The program shows improvement throughout the year from both the Girls and Boys teams and the younger players 5-8th grade are now successfully competing with the best teams in the league.
The Scorpions begin making a name for themselves. The program becomes the largest in the NCJLA with 14 teams (9 Boys and 4 Girls). Monte Vista High school begins with a Varsity program and the Scorpions Field their last High School teams at the Junior Varsity level
373 Boys register to play from 2 – 10th grade and 91 girls register from 4th – 8th Grade. The program adds younger ages that end up competing against themselves or a few other programs that are now also starting 2/3rd grade levels. Total players 464.
The program wins 3 Titles in 2003 at different levels
The program has now been successful in helping all local High Schools launch their own JV and Varsity programs and disbands its High School program.
360 Boys register from 2nd -8th grades
85 Girls register from 5th – 8th grades Total players 445.
Coaching ranks are noe focused on the development of non-lacrosse playing parent volunteers to help us with the continued growth in the program.
The local High school programs are thriving and leading the way in the level of play in Northern California.
Scorpions take a total of 5 league Titles and place are competitive at almost all age groups.
Scorpions add there first Kindergarten and 1st grade teams for Boys and girls registration begins to take off.
361 Boys register for the spring and 114 Girls register to play the game. Total players 475.
The Scorpions win championships in almost all age groups of the NCJLA.
The program continues to thrive as 331 Boys register and 105 girls participate. Total players 436
The Boys and Girls continue to excel and take home a majority of the NCJLA championships. The programs players are now consistently competing on NorCal All star teams and travelling extensively.
The girls program is now beginning to take off. The Scorpion girls programs goes up to 144 players and the Boys total 312. Total players in the program 456.
Scorpions continue to win a significant amount of the league championships.
The girls program continues to grow now numbering 169. Boys 344. Total 513
The program continues to thrive 383 Boys and 189 Girls. Total Players 572
Other interesting Diablo Scorpion Lacrosse Facts!
How did the name come about?
Before the first coaches/Board meeting of the program, Steve and George agreed to come up with names for the program. Steve liked the “Titans”, George asked his kids for a name and after an hour of laughter came up with the San Ramon Valley Scorpions. At the first coaches meeting the coaches whose kids attended Monte Vista High School, immediately said that using their arch rivals name (San Ramon Valley) for the team would not work.
The Board agreed to use Mt. Diablo as a non biased title and then decided to eliminate the Mt. to not confuse it with the school district by that name. Finally they also selected Scorpions as the name of the new organization.
How were the colors selected? Virginia or Syracuse?
The answer is neither. First the program was looking to keep its costs down and only have to require their players to buy one uniform not 2 (home and away). So we agreed to choose a different color then any other program. They also wanted to stay away from the local High Schools colors. Orange and Navy were recommended and accepted by the Board. These colors happened to align with the Mountain Lakes NJ program that George had coached at in New Jersey.
Were there any Scorpion Traditions?
The one that stood out, was a continual focus on their players playing multiple sports. No coach was ever allowed to tell a player he/she could not compete in another sport. A focus was put on making sure players competed and had fun.
How has the program helped the local High School Programs?
There have been 7 North Coast Section Boys and Girls High School Championships since the inception of the program. Every boys championship team has been made up with a significant amount of Scorpion players, 4 of the 7 Girls championship teams have been made up with Scorpion players.
Thank you to all the Coaches, Players, Volunteers and Parents that made this happen!