Like their untamed and tenacious namesake animal, the members of the Teton Wolverine Lacrosse team have thus far been relatively small in physical stature. For the past five years, the Teton Valley Youth Lacrosse league has coached boys and girls from kindergarten through eighth grade. Now, building on the passion and success cultivated by the past half decade, the Wolverines are assembling their first high school team.

“We’ve been building from the younger ages up, which is different from other communities,” said Rachel Fortier, program director of TVYLA. “I think we are going to have a lot of success because of how we’ve worked it.” Most other communities, Fortier explained, start with a high school team, and then expand programming down to younger ages. In Teton Valley, however, the first members of the junior varsity team are kids who have already spent years growing to love the sport.

The team — still seeking players — does not require such a background in lacrosse, emphasized Fortier. “Young people pick up this sport really quickly. Basketball and hockey players make great lacrosse players, actually. There’s a significant amount of overlap.”

The high school coach, DJ Moltenbrey, was born and bred in Western Massachusetts, where he learned his love for outdoor recreation and the environment. These passions brought him to the Tetons, where he spent a couple years in Jackson until he was able to join the amazing Teton Valley community full-time in 2020. Moltenbrey owns and operates a property management company, DJM Property Services LLC, and loves to snowboard, backpack, and get on the water as much as possible.

He began playing lacrosse at age 8, became hooked immediately, and played all the way through his high school years. “I’m stoked to bring my lacrosse knowledge and experience to the Tetons, and even more stoked to teach a new generation of kids this amazing sport and all it has to offer,” he said.

The season runs throughout April and May, and Fortier hopes that this trailblazing opportunity will get a new cadre of high school boys interested in the game. “This is the first year for all of us at this level, and so we’re all building this together. That’s a unique thing: we’re creating something that we can all be proud of.”

Registration is open on the TVYLA website, and costs $115 for the season. Gear rental is available for $40 for the season. However, if a player isn’t able to make that investment, Fortier explained that shouldn’t hold them back. Scholarships for all ages are available, and easily applied for on the website.

TVYLA is also in the process of assembling a Mountain West Youth Lacrosse League for kindergarten through eighth grade boys and girls this summer. In collaboration with clubs in Pocatello, Sun Valley, Jackson, Idaho Falls, and Twin Falls, leaders are putting together a series of gatherings that will include games, clinics with professional players, and educational opportunities for parents.

Ultimately, Fortier said, the game isn’t exclusively about winning or performing on the field. It’s an opportunity to instill important values and life skills into a younger generation. “Playing a team sport, learning to cooperate — it teaches kids so much.” And that’s the mission of the league; not to instill hyper-competitive drive into young players, but instead create opportunities to explore values like determination, communication, sportsmanship, and accountability.

The league is also on the lookout for adults who would like to be involved in the sport in a coaching or refereeing capacity. Like other forms of participation, previous lacrosse experience isn’t necessary, Fortier said. What is critical, she noted, is a willingness to lead and mentor participants in a way that aligns with the league’s values and focus on growth, not competition.

Over the past five years, the Wolverines have grown into an impressively determined and passionate cadre. Fortier looks forward to the coming season, as well as future growth opportunities for kids and the community alike.