It hasn't been difficult for new coach Chris Robbins to have a big-picture approach regarding the Gahanna Lincoln High School boys lacrosse team.
Although the Lions went just 7-13 a year ago, Robbins has seen the program's numbers grow by about one-third since he took over in the offseason.
He also has been pleased with the athleticism and mental approach he's observed.
"We're fighters," said Robbins, whose team opened March 26 at Knoxville (Tenn.) Webb. "If they make mistakes, they make them big because they know never to play it soft or slow. Despite our lower years of talent, they will be the fastest and most athletic team during most of our games."
The Lions, who were coached by Brett Dillon the past six seasons, should be led by their defense. Senior Ben Foley is back at close defender and senior Jordan Sprunger and sophomore Ian Blaney will be at long-stick midfielder.
Other midfielders are seniors Clay McQuown and Drew Mitchell, junior Joe Moore and sophomores Jake Chobany and Jack Kunkle.
Junior Austin Chroback and freshman Jared Chobany should be among the top attackers, along with senior Mason Settle.
Junior Alex Myer is expected to be at goalkeeper.
Gahanna lost seven players to graduation, including first-team all-Central Region long-stick midfielder Collin Blaney and second-team all-region attacker Nate Strong, who scored more than 60 goals last season.
The Lions tied for fifth (1-5) in the OCC-Ohio Division last year. Olentangy, which went 6-0 to win the league, and Olentangy Liberty, which was second at 5-1, have moved to the OCC-Buckeye. Joining the OCC-Ohio in their place are Dublin Scioto and Marysville.
The Lions' league opener is Wednesday, April 2, at New Albany.
Among Robbins' long-term goals will be to develop the district's youth program, which already was in place at Pickerington North when he became the Panthers' coach last season.
Robbins was named OCC-Central Coach of the Year in his only season at North but didn't have his contract renewed. He is a 2005 Hilliard Darby graduate who played for Robert Morris University for one season and was an assistant at Olentangy from 2010-12.
"Athletics (at Gahanna) are excellent, and the talent flows, but lacrosse is not there yet," Robbins said. "But I have everything I need to make it happen. I took the position because I believe in its potential.
"I also hope the team takes home the OCC this season and/or next. We need it here. We may not be the best lacrosse players for now, but they're competitive and we will play our best against anyone."
Girls lacrosse coach pleased with growth
Despite losing seven players to graduation, the girls lacrosse program's numbers are up to about 40 this spring, according to fourth-year coach Brooke Eisenacher.
The district had a middle school program for the first time last spring, and Eisenacher already is seeing the benefits of that.
"We've been really lucky because we have great numbers," said Eisenacher, whose team opens Tuesday, April 1, against visiting Darby. "Last year was the first year for our middle school program, so we're starting to develop a little bit younger. We still have a few new players out who haven't played before, but it definitely is making a difference."
The top returnees are seniors Amy Bott (defender), Cara Caldwell (midfielder) and Taylor Teutsch (attacker) and junior Erica Rapelje (center/ midfielder).
Junior Amanda Sorrell and sophomore Catie Rogers are back after splitting time at goalie. Freshman Emily Ryan is another goalie who could see action.
Also expected to contribute at defender is junior Natalie Shotts.
Juniors Marissa Bowman and Libby Gayer are at midfielder, while senior Paige Watterman is at attacker.
The 12-member freshman class includes defender Katherine Belz and midfielder Brittany Taylor.
Gahanna, which went 6-11 overall and 4-3 to place fourth in the OCC-Central last season, now is in the OCC-Ohio with Pickerington Central, Pickerington North, Westerville Central, Westerville North and Westerville South. Its league opener is April 3 against visiting Pickerington Central.
Lost to graduation were Kelsey Francis (37 goals, 10 assists), Bre Moser (41 goals, 8 assists) and Anna Tarbutton (38 goals). Moser is playing for Lake Erie College and Tarbutton is at Wittenberg.
"We're just trying to gain experience," Eisenacher said. "We've got to keep working on our fundamentals and stick skills."