DALTON, Ga. — Logan Cole played many sports while growing up, but little did he know he was just waiting for the right one to come along.
As a seventh-grader, the recent Dalton High School graduate joined his best friend and neighbor Jack Sanderson on an adventure that would eventually land him as the first Catamount to sign a scholarship to play collegiate lacrosse. A few weeks ago, Cole made everything official with a celebration at Reinhardt University in Waleska where he will join the Eagles this fall.
“I had always played baseball and soccer and stuff like that,” Cole said. “But I really wanted to try something new and it turns out I was pretty good at it. I had really never even heard of lacrosse, but I picked it up pretty fast and could do most of the stuff within about a month.”
Sanderson’s father, Mike, is credited with beginning the lacrosse program at Dalton when his son was still in middle school. The development was slow, and with Cole on board, the Catamounts first played three years as a club team before joining the Georgia High School Association when Cole and Sanderson were freshmen. In the ninth grade the duo and about 10 others in their class competed as a junior varsity team before finally becoming an official team as sophomores.
While the Catamounts were now sanctioned to compete against other varsity teams, they learned very quickly just how difficult the road ahead would be. Three games into the season, they faced a defending state champion team in Allatoona.
“We really got thrown into the fire,” Cole said. “We had been so used to JV and middle school competition that this was our first real taste of top competition. Once we figured out what was coming, I think it helped us in the long run.”
Things only went up from there as the team learned everything they needed to know about the sport. Cole served not only as a quick and athletic piece to the puzzle playing in the midfield and attacking position, but also as one of the most dedicated. In its humble beginnings, Cole helped his teammates assemble their lacrosse sticks, among other things, watching YouTube videos of how to properly assemble the equipment.
After being the first in program history to record a goal, Cole’s determination was what gave him the opportunity to play lacrosse in college. He averaged between two and three goals a game during his junior year, setting him up with some basic highlights he could show anyone who was interested.
“I had a feeling I could hang with some of the best players, but I still didn’t know exactly how good I was,” he said. “There aren’t that many lacrosse programs in the South, so I basically just started doing a bunch of research. I made a YouTube video of my clips and emailed it to a bunch of coaches.”
Once Cole began to hear back from a few coaches, he became a little more serious about his decision to pursue lacrosse as an avenue to higher education. During his senior year, Cole became more known by visiting teams and was more highly guarded, giving him the chance to record most assists than goals.
Cole did visit one school in North Carolina, but his best option for what he was looking for came with a great deal of luck, he said.
Reinhardt, a member of the NAIA, is about an hour drive from Dalton, keeping Cole close to home. It also has happened to win the NAIA national championship for the past three years.
“I knew I would like the opportunity to play in college, but it wasn’t going to be the end of the world if I didn’t,” he said. “Once I got an offer from Reinhardt, I knew I could be with a winning program and not that far away. It can’t get much better than that.”
Now that his next step is set, Cole said he hopes for more people to learn more about lacrosse. And after trying out a variety of sports, he also said he doesn’t mind being known now as the kid who plays lacrosse.
“I think I wanted to do this because no one has done it before,” he said. “I’m kind of like the trailblazer who led the way. I like to be able to help those below me and provide answers to some of their questions. I think this whole thing was just meant to be.”