Slade Wilson shines on lacrosse field

Balers junior Slade Wilson has been an impact player on the lacrosse team. Photo by Robert Eliason.

Slade Wilson’s schedule is not for the faint of heart. The San Benito High junior is particularly busy during the spring sports season, as he balances strength-training and conditioning sessions in the morning for football and lacrosse matches and practices in the evening.

Wilson’s day begins in zero period with strength-training and conditioning, and lacrosse practice doesn’t start until 6 p.m. because other spring sports teams are using the field before them. By the time Wilson’s day is done, he will have spent 14 hours at school balancing academics and athletics.

“Having to maintain grades and putting in the effort in the weight room in the morning and practices at night is pretty stressful on the body, but I feel I’m doing pretty good at making everything work,” Wilson said.

The Haybalers entered the week with a 2-1 record, with Wilson and several others—Jason White, Parker Ulrich and Tyler Benedetti, just to name a few—playing a key role in the team’s success. Wilson has had a couple of spectacular matches this season, as the midfielder scored a career-high five goals against Woodside and the game-winning score in nail-biting fashion against Palma in the Aptos Tournament.

The latter match went to the Braveheart method, when each team has just one field player along with a goalie to determine the winner in sudden-death fashion. After a missed shot from the Palma player, Wilson used his superior conditioning to outrun his opponent to the Palma goal.

“The other guy was gassed, so I ran down the field, gave a fake and shot it in,” Wilson said. “I was so excited I threw my stick in the air.

Wilson came in on the Palma goalie on a breakaway before utilizing a fake and scoring to seal the victory. Wilson’s teammates rushed the field in celebration, a milestone win considering the opponent.

“I threw my stick in the air I was so excited,” he said.

Balers coach Don Jones said Wilson makes everyone around him better, a testament to Wilson’s passing ability and field awareness. Even though Wilson doesn’t play lacrosse in the off-season—football takes up that time—he feels like he’s much improved from a season ago.

“I’ve got more size and strength,” he said. “Things start to slow down more after playing the sport for a couple of years.”

One of San Benito’s best results came in a 9-6 loss to Carmel, which is one of the Mission Trail League’s power programs. The Balers entered the fourth quarter tied at 6-6 before Carmel pulled away.

“Last year we got blown out by them, and in the years before we were not good enough to compete with them,” Wilson said. “But this year we gave them a good run for their money. This year our team is looking really good.”

Wilson has a goal to be the “most dominant faceoff middie in the league,” while continuing to improve in every aspect of the game. Wilson helps the team with excellent ball-control skills, along with the ability to score. Even though lacrosse is one of the newest sports at San Benito High, Wilson was familiar with the game because his dad, Steele, played for the Naval Academy.

“My dad introduced me to the game, so I was familiar with it by the time I got to high school,” he said.

Wilson, who was also the starting quarterback for the football team last fall, said he likes the physical aspect of both sports, even though he has a slightly different mindset and persona when playing each sport.

“In football, I have to be more calm as the quarterback,” he said. “I don’t really talk and have to stay focused. In lacrosse, I can be kind of more loud and cocky. It’s pretty physical, but being a football player, I’m used to it. I like the contact because I think it gives me an advantage when I go against other players.”

Wilson feels right at home since no less than a half-dozen players from the football team are also playing lacrosse.

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