Heathwood Upper School Head and Assistant Head of School George Scouten was one of six men honored at halftime of the 2018 Major League Lacrosse championship game for his key role in bringing the sport of lacrosse to South Carolina.
The ceremony, held at halftime of the August 18 game in Charleston, commemorated the 20th anniversary of the first high school lacrosse game played in South Carolina. Dr. Scouten was the coach of the Heathwood team that played in that game. What began in the late 1990s as Dr. Scouten, a Maryland native, brought his lifelong love of the game to his new state, has now grown into a thriving, and rapidly expanding network of teams and players.
“The sport has grown by leaps and bounds since that first game," Dr. Scouten said. "Twenty years ago, you couldn’t buy lacrosse equipment in any store in SC, and if you were carrying a lacrosse stick, nobody would know what it was. I couldn’t have imagined the MLL ever hosting its championship game in South Carolina—it’s really exciting what has happened.”
That growth has been gratifying, Dr. Scouten said, because “I just love the game. I love playing it. I love teaching it to young people. It’s a sport that allows a player to use any attributes he has and be successful. There’s no one model lacrosse player. Mostly, though, whenever I get a lacrosse stick in my hands, I feel like a kid again—and that’s a fun feeling.”
The significance of being honored at the MLL championship game sort of snuck up on him, Dr. Scouten said. “I didn’t think much of it until I stepped out on the field with some of the other pioneers of the sport, and one of them said to Scott Sharp and me, none of this would have been here tonight without the two of you. The other really gratifying part of the evening was that so many of my JV lacrosse players were there watching the game. They didn’t know that I was going to be recognized, but they cheered so loudly when my name was called that I knew exactly where they were in the stadium. It was touching for me to be able to join past and present that way.”
The JV team that Dr. Scouten and Joe Moran been coaching for the past few years is part of a recent resurgence in the Heathwood lacrosse program. The talent and commitment of this group, coupled with the leadership of varsity head coach Drew Rowley, bodes well for the future of the program, according to Scouten: “For the first decade of lacrosse in this state, Heathwood Hall was considered one of the best teams in the state—and certainly one of classiest teams when it came to modeling good sportsmanship and respect for the game. We slipped for a number of years, but what’s exciting now is that we are on a trajectory to be one of the top teams in the state again, public or private. And the work that Drew Rowley, Joe Moran and others have done with our kids—starting in lower school—means that we’ll have a steady pipeline for years to come. We’re also very lucky here at Heathwood to have an Athletic Director who knows and loves the sport himself. Not every school is so fortunate.”