Years ago, before the sport of lacrosse took off in central Ohio, the Upper Arlington High School boys team was a true powerhouse in the state. Now, even though the Westerville, Dublin, Hilliard, Pickerington and Olentangy schools all have added this fast-paced sport in recent years, the Upper Arlington boys team remains a powerhouse in the state.

Years ago, before the sport of lacrosse took off in central Ohio, the Upper Arlington High School boys team was a true powerhouse in the state. Now, even though the Westerville, Dublin, Hilliard, Pickerington and Olentangy schools all have added this fast-paced sport in recent years, the Upper Arlington boys team remains a powerhouse in the state.

Coached by Ted Wolford, the Golden Bears are the defending Division I state champions and started this season by winning their first nine games. The tradition continues.

Senior Kyle Vesper and junior Tyler Pfister are two of the leaders of this UA team. They want to live up to the legacy of past teams and win for their beloved coach.

"As you grow up in Upper Arlington, you constantly hear about lacrosse, and as a little guy your goal is to first make the high school team and then continue the winning tradition," Vesper said. "Coach Wolford has developed this program and made it what it is. His knowledge is unbelievable and his respect from everyone in the lacrosse world is hard to parallel.

"I remember having him at a youth camp in the fourth or fifth grade and asking him if he would still be around when I got to high school and, like I hoped, he was and I have been honored to be with him for the past four years."

Pfister echoes Vesper's assessment.

"I have so much respect for the time coach Wolford puts in to make our program one of the top ones in Ohio," Pfister said. "All you have to do is look at all the players he has coached that have gone on to college lacrosse and coach makes them better people than lacrosse players. Having some of those past players come back and watch us play and sometimes talk to us is a huge motivator to keep our team at the top."

The Bears always are prepared to play, but they never rest on their laurels.

"We come out every game knowing we have a major target on our back and we know we had better play to the best of our capabilities," Pfister said. "To me, our strength is the vision we have on the field. We work for each other and concentrate on the team aspect of lacrosse. I think we were a bit hesitant last year and we seem to be a little more confident in our abilities this spring, but I personally don't think we have played our best to this point in the season because we seem to play down to our opponents' abilities some. We need to be better."

Vesper agrees with his teammate.

"We are really not where we should be at this point in the season," he said. "Maybe we are more worried about keeping our tradition up and not just enjoying and having fun with our sport like we should be. We came into the season with lots of returning players, especially in the junior class, and that has made our team chemistry pretty good. Coach Wolford has taught us that 75 percent of all goals scored come from the transition game on the field, and when we have the man advantage, we need to attack the goal and capitalize on the situation. We are getting better at this and should be really good as the season winds down."

Both Vesper and Pfister said lacrosse has been important in developing into the young men they are today.

"There is a movie I have seen called 'Band of Brothers' that illustrates how I feel about my sport," Vesper said. "The brotherhood in the movie signed a paper saying they would back each other always and that is the way it is on this UA lacrosse team. We all understand the pressure on us to keep the team tradition what it is and we all look up to the players who have gone before us to make the record so outstanding. Lacrosse has helped me strive to be the best person I can be."

Pfister added, "I am amazed at all the friendships I have made through lacrosse, and this sport has given me the unique platform to mentor younger kids and teach them the lessons I have learned about life."

At Upper Arlington, the cycle of success continues.

I'll see you at a game.

Larry Larson is a former athletics director at Grandview High School. He can be heard as "Mr. High School Sports" on WTVN 610 AM.