Game On — Local athlete keeps the competitive edge at every level he plays lacrosse
Whether it’s coincidence, or a sign of some greater forces at work, the color yellow seems to follow Issaquah High School graduate Kevin Powers.
Powers, 21, donned the navy blue and yellow of the Swedish National Lacrosse team at the 2014 World Lacrosse Championship in July. In high school, Powers was a standout player in the purple and gold of Issaquah. He continued his success in San Rafael, California, where he is in his senior year wearing the — once again — navy blue and yellow of Dominican University.
At the lacrosse championships, Powers led Team Sweden to an 11th-place finish out of 38 teams. Not bad, considering Sweden only has 250 registered men and women lacrosse players in the entire country.
Not his first sport
But for all of his success, lacrosse wasn’t Powers’ first sport, and he didn’t start playing until his friends decided to ditch hockey pucks for woven lacrosse sticks.
“I played a whole bunch of sports when I was younger — soccer, basketball, football — but hockey was what drew me into lacrosse,” Powers said.
After joining the Issaquah Lacrosse Club’s youth league during the inaugural season in 2004, Powers hit the ground running.
“I love the transition game and how there is always something happening,” he said. “It’s not like in baseball or in football, where there’s a break in between plays. There’s always something going on. That’s what I love about it.”
Luckily for Powers, Issaquah over the years has become a breeding ground of sorts for top-level lacrosse players, and Issaquah high school’s lacrosse team is one of the best in the entire state, consistently ranking among the top five teams in Washington.
“Playing at Issaquah definitely helped me develop as a lacrosse player, because we had a good coach, Brandon Fortier, who had a lot of schemes and tactics that helped us grow,” Powers said. “Playing in big games against schools like Bellevue and Mercer Island helps you grow, because when the game is on the line, big things happen.”
During his four-year varsity career at Issaquah, where he made First Team All-State as a top midfielder on both offense and defense, Powers finished his senior year by participating in the U.S. Lacrosse All-American Showcase in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. The event was at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, and out of 96 high school participants, Powers was the only one selected from Washington state.
The high level of play at Issaquah and the showcase, Powers said, helped him prepare for collegiate competition, and he has since finished his junior year with even more accolades playing NCAA Division II lacrosse at Dominican University.
“It’s a faster game in college, so that took time to get used to,” he said. “I’ve also been playing more lacrosse throughout the year than I did back in Issaquah, where during off-season it was just once a week. But at Dominican, it’s year round.”
In addition to helping Dominican win its second consecutive Western Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association conference championship this past season, Powers was named both MVP and Offensive Player of the Year after scoring 36 goals and registering 51 offensive points in just 12 conference games.
He also earned WILA First Team and Academic team recognition, making him a vital part of Dominican’s success on and off the field.
“Kevin was a major part of our offense, leading both our team and the conference in scoring,” Dominican head coach Matt Blamey said. “He had a knack for being in the right place, and without Kevin, I’m not sure we would have achieved the level of success that we did last season.”
Europe and Team Sweden
But it’s not just on the West Coast where Powers has been displaying his skill. While most kids his age were out partying for Halloween, a 17-year-old Powers traveled to Europe after he was invited to a tryout for Team Sweden’s national lacrosse team.
“I was born in Sweden and lived there until I was 5, and heard about the team from a buddy that I played club lacrosse with,” Powers said. “He told me I should come out, and they liked what they saw, so I ended up making the team.”
It didn’t take long for Powers to make his mark for the country of his birth, and his first experience with the team was helping it take 10th place at the 2010 World Lacrosse Championship in Manchester, England.
“I was only 17, so I was really young at the time and felt like I had to prove myself,” Powers said. “But it was a lot of fun just taking in the atmosphere, being able to wear the Swedish jersey and meeting a lot of new guys.”
One of Team Sweden’s coaches, Kim Langeborg, said he was impressed with Powers’ transition from high school to international play.
“Kevin is a down-to-earth guy who was very good in getting into the group,” Langeborg said. “He adapted to the way of how Sweden plays lacrosse and showed straight away at practice that he was to have a spot on the national team.”
Just two short years later, Powers was back with Team Sweden, this time for the European Lacrosse Championship in Amsterdam, Netherlands, in 2012. Sweden took bronze.
“I felt like I changed as a player after the 2010 championships, I really developed,” Powers said. “In Amsterdam, I
was a little older and felt like I could be in more of a commanding role."
“Our biggest things is every time you come to play Swedish lacrosse, you’re gonna say, ‘That was a hard one, or that hurt,’ and it’s not gonna be a fun time playing against us.”
Having seen Powers’ development from a teenager to present day first hand, Langeborg agreed.
“First of all, Kevin is a winner. And he will do what it takes for the team to win,” Langeborg said. “As an athlete, he is the best player Sweden has had in a long time.”
Powers said he is now focusing on school and just have fun playing lacrosse. His coach was quick to recognize his accomplishments so far.
“Watching Kevin compete for Team Sweden during the 2014 FIL World Championship was exciting to see,” Blamey said. “Not only did he excel on the field, but he led the entire tournament in scoring."
“He represented the state of Washington, Dominican University, the West Coast and Sweden very well, which is a lot to have on your shoulders as a young man. He has a lot to be proud of.”