On an afternoon last May, Pembroke Hill junior William Esrey packed up his golf clubs, stuffed them in the trunk of his car and drove to the Lacrosse Association of Kansas City championship game. His classmates — many of whom he considers his best friends — were competing against Rockhurst for the right to be labeled the area’s top lacrosse team.
But over the next two hours, Esrey watched as the Hawklets instead earned that distinction. It didn’t sit well with him.
“I was like, ‘Man, I gotta get out there.’” Esrey said. “I felt like I could’ve been out there and contributed pretty heavily.”
One year later, true to his word, Esrey has joined the Raiders’ lacrosse team. But he still has the golf clubs, too.
And that’s made for a particularly busy spring.
“I think I was a little bit hesitant in the beginning because I didn’t know how he was going to work it all out and have time for both,” Pembroke Hill golf coach Evan Scobie said. “But he’s having a great season for us. And from my understanding, he’s having a great season for them.”
The balancing act has required Esrey to practice seven days every week. He spends three or four weekdays with the lacrosse team, plays a round of golf on the other weekday and practically lives on the golf course on the weekends.
He’s been quite good in both sports, too.
On Monday, Esrey fired a 3-under par and won the Missouri Class 3, District 8 golf tournament by 3 strokes, helping the defending state-champion Raiders finish atop the district standings.
On Friday night, he plans to be in his lacrosse uniform for a game at Olathe East. He is Pembroke Hill’s third leading scorer this season with 21 goals in 11 games — despite sitting out the past two seasons to focus on golf.
“In his first practice, I was amazed,” Raiders lacrosse coach David Colbert said. “He has great stick skills, great vision, and he’s super creative with the ball.”
In fact, his performances in each sport has led the two coaches to wish they had Esrey in a full-time role. But Scobie and Colbert have been respectful of his time away from each teams — a conflict that could reach its pinnacle in two weeks.
The golf team will play in the sectional tournament next week, and if it finishes among the top-two teams, it will advance to the Class 3 state meet on May 18-19. The lacrosse team, meanwhile, could be opening its playoff schedule on the same dates.
Should the two intersect, Esrey has made his commitment to play golf, which he still considers his best — and favorite — sport.
“It would be really tough to miss that, but I saw that conflict when I was planning this out,” Esrey said. “If I have to miss a playoff game, hopefully the team can win without me, and I can join the next one.”
The transition between the two sports hasn’t been a difficult one, Esrey says, though they each require a unique mental approach.
Golf often demands an even-keel, calm demeanor, which Esrey has worked hard to exhibit on a more consistent basis this season. His biggest help? Lacrosse allows an opportunity to take out the aggression.
“You can afford to be a lot more intense on the lacrosse field,” Esrey said. “I think it’s actually been very helpful for my golf game. You let all your frustration out on the lacrosse field. You’ve got an outlet for it.”
In other words, the spring experimentation seems to have worked out. So far.
Might it stick around next season, too?
“Oh, yeah,” he said. “I’m having too much fun to give it up.”