St. Ursula coach to lead team of Ohio lacrosse all-stars in prestigious national tournament
TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - When the U.S. Lacrosse national organization hosts its prestigious Memorial Day tournament in Baltimore this year, there will be a piece of northwest Ohio roaming the sidelines.
St. Ursula Academy coach Paul Sieben has been selected as the head coach for one of the two Ohio girls teams that will represent the state. Sieben has been the coach of the Ohio All-Star team and national teams before, and he said it’s always an honor.
“This tournament is one of the most highly respected tournaments that will be held in the United States for high school students who are interested in playing at the next level in college,” Sieben said. “I was delighted when I got the phone call telling me I had been selected again to coach this team. It’s a high honor, it’s a great tournament.
“These will be among the best high school players in the country, so to have an opportunity to coach the best players in the state of Ohio and represent Ohio against the other teams from around the country, I’m proud to have that opportunity.”
The teams will bring together the best girls high school players in Ohio in the ninth, tenth, and eleventh grades. They will have a tryout this weekend in Hilliard, in suburban Columbus. The teams will play in Baltimore on May 29 and 30.
If any players are interested in trying out for the teams, Sieben can supply them with registration information by calling him at 419-392-6880. Registration closes Friday.
Sieben is a definite trailblazer for lacrosse in northwest Ohio. A native of Long Island, New York, when he arrived in Toledo more than 30 years ago, he said the sport was nonexistent in the area. He helped establish boys and girls teams across the area, including starting the SUA program in 1999.
Since those early beginnings, Sieben has seen a definite growth in the popularity of and participation in the sport.
“We’ve had very good growth over the years in northwest Ohio,” Sieben said. “When I first started the program at St. Ursula, we didn’t have the teams to play here, so we used to go to Cleveland and Columbus primarily to play teams. The growth has been good, it’s been steady.”
Sieben and teams from Ohio have seen success at national tournaments, winning their divisions at different events. And while winning is definitely a goal for these teams, Sieben said the opportunity for these players to perform in front of hundreds of college coaches who attend is invaluable.
“When I was a college coach for four years at Lourdes University, I went every year to the national tournament to recruit players,” Sieben said. “Winning is one aspect of it, but more important for the individual high school player is to have this exposure to all of the college coaches from around the country.”
When it comes to competing in the national tournaments, Sieben said it’s important that Ohio teams are placed properly in their divisions. With powerhouse teams coming from the east coast, where lacrosse development is started at a much younger age than here, he said Ohio teams struggle to compete against those from out east.
“Because these are the top players in Ohio, we are usually very competitive,” Sieben said. “Last year, we had one team that went to the national tournament and they won their division. We can be competitive. The first year I took an Ohio team to the national tournament, we also won our division.”
During Sieben’s first 14 years with the school, St. Ursula won seven straight Toledo City League championships and advanced to the state quarterfinals and semifinals multiple times.
Sieben left SUA to start the first women’s lacrosse team at Lourdes University, creating the program from scratch in 2013. In 2016, he was named the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference Coach of the Year after leading the Gray Wolves to a spot in the conference tournament for the first time in program history.
He left Lourdes to return to St. Ursula in 2019.
Sieben has been involved with lacrosse for nearly 40 years as a player, coach, and official. He helped start youth lacrosse programs in Columbus as well as on Long Island in New York.
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