Twins Jacob (left) and Steven (right) began playing lacrosse in their neighborhood and grew along with the sport in Gwinnett County to become standout players at Peachtree RIdge. (Staff Photo: Ben Beitzel)
SUWANEE — This wasn’t about becoming ambassadors. Neither Steven nor Jacob Lee picked up their first lacrosse stick thinking about blazing a different athletic path. It was just a game, more exciting than baseball yet something the twins could practice together.
“I just loved how faced-paced it was, how different it was,” Steven said. “With baseball, I got pretty bored. In lacrosse I could just run around and pick the ball up. When I first started playing I didn’t really know the rules.”
The Lees aren’t transplants, carpetbagging lacrosse to the south, they grew up in Gwinnett. Steven is so opposed to cold weather he didn’t consider college outside the South. They started playing lacrosse with a friend in the neighborhood in fourth grade. By fifth grade they were playing in youth leagues and eventually joined the young Gwinnett Lacrosse League. The GLL was just getting started and the Lees were in the first wave of youth players rising into the Gwinnett high schools. By the time the Lees reached Peachtree Ridge, they were ready to push the Lions’ program from fledgling to competitive.
“These guys were like, stick skills,” said head coach Bob Basher, whose early teams were aided by the pure athletic ability of the Botts brothers. “(The Lees) could come up and understand offense and defense. They could actually help the varsity. They made the varsity their freshman year.”
Led by the Lees, Peachtree Ridge won two region championships and have made the playoffs each season the now senior twins were on the team.
“They brought consistency to the program,” Basher said. “In the clutch you can count on them to make big shots, to win a face-off. You see them out there doing the right things.”
As fraternal twins, Steven and Jacob play different positions. Steven plays on the offensive attack and Jacob plays the versatile midfield position. There are plenty of players on the Lions’ team the Lees grew up with at Peachtree Ridge, but the summer days they spent shooting in the park after working out and the ever-present practice partner allow the pair to intimately know the other’s game.
“We are pretty alike in a lot of ways. I like playing with him. It would be weird to not play with him than it would be to play with him,” Jacob said. “In games we always know what the other one is going to do.”
Away from the field and teammates, the Lees’ challenge since taking the mantle of lacrosse player is to let their other friends and even family know what is happening on the field. Lacrosse knowledge remains limited.
“Especially the people, my friends, they’ll come watch us play and be like, ‘I don’t know what’s happening,’” Steven said. “I have to explain it to everyone and they ask me a lot of questions. I am constantly explaining the sport.”
“Our friends think it’s a stupid sport,” Jacob said. “It’s confusing to them. They like the concept of hitting someone with a stick.”
Finding any gateway works for the Lees to introduce the sport to their classmates. They don’t mind the simplistic questions, rather they enjoy introducing higher-level lacrosse to an entire region.
“It’s interesting as we spread the game down here because we are like the first generation to play down here,” Steven said. “It’s kind of cool.”
Neither brother will continue lacrosse after this season. Steven plans to attend Georgia and Jacob wants to study business at Georgia College and State University. Academics were always stressed the both have GPAs in the 3.9s (Jacob’s is slightly higher). It wasn’t easy to give up the idea of college sports, but they knew lacrosse would end for them eventually. With the playoffs approaching there are still games left to play, a few more chances to convert fans.
“It will be weird to stop,” Jacob said. “I am going to miss it.”