Five incoming sophomores and juniors from Live Oak High’s lacrosse team—Luke Richey, Ben Ledwith, Nolan Ledwith, Collin Fisher and Colby Allen—in May were selected to play for Pinnacle, a premier traveling team based out of Sacramento.
The players recently returned from a trip to the East Coast where they played in two showcase tournaments and got to visit several historic colleges and talk with college coaches.
“It was great experiencing being on the campuses of Villanova, Penn State and some other colleges there,” said Richey, an attacker and midfielder.
Pinnacle played in the Trilogy 24 tournament in Philadelphia before competing in the Hogan Tournament in Hershey. Allen and Fisher played on the 2023 Pinnacle team, while the Ledwiths and Richey were on the 2024 team. The 2024 team made the playoffs in both tournaments and finished third out of 78 teams in their division in the Hogan showcase.
Pinnacle selects the best players out of the Bay Area and Sacramento region to compete in showcase tournaments throughout the year. The aforementioned players all got their start with the Morgan Hill-based South County Outlaws program that Brad Ledwith launched several years ago, making this a true homegrown story.
“Pinnacle is probably one of only three teams like this in the Bay Area,” said Brad Ledwith, who is the father of fraternal twins Ben and Nolan. “To have five people from one rec program go on to play for Live Oak and then to Pinnacle is a pretty big deal.”
Ledwith said the Outlaws are still thriving, with 100-plus kids ages 6 to 14 participating in the recently completed Covid-shortened spring season. The 6-foot-2, 175-pound Richey relished the challenge of playing on the East Coast, where lacrosse remains the sports epicenter.
“All my life I’ve been told East Coast players are bigger, stronger and faster, but at the end of the day we were able to compete just as good as anyone else out there,” he said.
During tournament play, Brad Ledwith said Richey had eight goals, Ben Ledwith had two goals and four assists, and defender Nolan Ledwith led the team with 40 ground balls and several breakups.
Pinnacle coach Lorne Silverstein, the men’s coach at UC Davis in 2005-2006 and former player at Syracuse University, said California teams can compete with the very best programs in the nation because kids are starting to pick up the sport at an earlier age.
“We’ve won all over the place with California kids who tend to be very good athletes but usually don’t have a stick in their hand at age 6, but that is changing,” he said. “When we go east, we find the skill set of East Coast kids is pretty high in addition to the fact they’re more battle tested and hard-nosed. So it’s really about teaching attitude meets aptitude and letting our kids know their skill set is also high and their athleticism can get them far (to go along with a tough mental mindset).”
An incoming 15-year-old sophomore, Richey is pulling off grueling double duty this summer playing lacrosse for travel team Chauncey Boys and practicing with Live Oak’s football team.
“We’ll usually practice three days a week for lacrosse, but I can’t make every one of those practices because sometimes I’m exhausted after three hours of football,” Richey said. “I really enjoy both sports. You need footwork, the IQ, the physical aspects to be able to play both sports.”
Along with the Ledwiths, Allen and Fisher, Richey took up lacrosse for the first time six years ago. They’ve grown together, their games have developed and they’ve had fun along the way.
“We all started from nothing, not even knowing what the sport was,” Richey said. “My dad tells me we used to always come back home after practice and say how much we loved it so much more than any other sport.”
Richey has a goal to play for a four-year school, whether it’s at the Division I, II or III level. He said playing in showcase tournaments like Trilogy and Hogan is a step in that direction.
“This summer I wanted to get seen and get on the radar of college coaches,” he said. “Making sure they know who I was and just wanting to make a name for myself. I think I did that pretty well on our East Coast trip.”