Bryan Dieter is definitely passionate about the sport of lacrosse.
In fact, at the age of 53, he is still competing against players less than half his age.
He has used his enthusiasm to form the St. Louis Men's Lacrosse League, a six-team loop featuring some of the top adult players in the area, including several who now coach at Creve Coeur area high schools.
The league, which has three games every Sunday morning, began on a high note on June 5 as The NewsTeam knocked off Dieter's squad, Rasta Lacrosse, 10-7 in the opening match.
Dieter, the league's chairman, envisioned a league for college-age players to hone their skills in the offseason. His idea caught on like wildfire. He had to turn players away this season, and the league will likely expand to at least eight teams next summer.
"The guys are having a great time with this," Dieter said. "The sport is growing, and we want to go along with that growth."
The teams consist of between 12 and 20 players per squad. Clubs are made up of college athletes, recent high school graduates and players that have used up their college eligibility. Plus, there is always room for a lacrosse fanatic, such as Dieter.
The NewsTeam, Rasta Lacrosse, O'Fallon, Illinois Outlaws, The Cyclones, The Cartel and The Touchstone Transporters comprise the league in its initial campaign. Touchstone plays at . Former Spartan player and coach Mark Seyer manages the squad.
Rasta features Dan and Robby Kerch who currently coach the lacrosse program at . Dan played at De Smet, Robby at . Rich Davis, another former Spartan is in goal and Tony Cecil, a former head lacrosse coach at and currently a assistant, plays on defense, according to the Rasta website.
The teams will play a 10-game schedule, with five home games and five road games. The top two teams in the standings will play for the championship on Aug. 14. Dieter is also hoping to put together an all-star game in July.
The league is a perfect fit for players such as Luke Fallstrom, who recently completed his eligibility at Fontbonne University. Fallstrom, a defender, was chosen as the MVP of his college team.
"This gives me a chance to keep on playing against real good competition," said Fallstrom, a Kirkwood High School graduate.
Each squad has a home field. In addition to De Smet, games are also played at St. Louis University High School, Mary Institute Country Day School and in O'Fallon, IL.
Dieter, who grew up outside of Syracuse, NY, began playing lacrosse at age 12 and has been hooked ever since. He has played on club teams in San Francisco, Boston, San Diego and Sacramento, CA throughout his career.
In the season’s curtain-raiser, Dieter, an attacker, drew a defender in his early 20s.
"I told him to take it easy on me, because I'm slow and old," Dieter recalled. Minutes later, after Dieter scored his second goal of the match, the defender was ready to throw in the towel.
"He told me, ‘You might be old—but you're sure not slow.’"
The quick rise of lacrosse, which has previously been popular only in the eastern half of the country, necessitated a St. Louis-area league. Dieter, whose son Max, also plays in the league, feels like there will be even more growth in the future.
"I think this is really going to catch on," he said. Dieter's son is the league's only current high school player, and will be a senior at Lafayette High School this fall.
Added the 22-year-old Fallstrom, "The game has really spread west in a hurry. It's becoming popular in areas where it's never been that popular before."
The sky is the limit for the league, Bryan Dieter said.
"So far, there's been great interest," he said. "And it's only going to get bigger."