Mars eighth-grader Nate Smith, right, recently played in a national lacrosse tournament in Virginia. He was the only member of his team from Pennsylvania.
ADAMS TWP — He may only be in eighth grade, but Mars resident Nate Smith is already going places in lacrosse. Smith recently returned from Richmond, Va., where he played for the True Lacrosse team in the National Scholastic Club Lacrosse Association National Cup. True Lacrosse has summer programs in Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Missouri and Pennsylvania. Its U-13 tournament team is comprised of players from all of those programs. Smith was the only member of the team from Pennsylvania. “He's 6-foot-3, 170 pounds, very big for his age, and he's solid on defense,” True Pa. Lacrosse director Dan Usaj said of Smith. “And Nate is extremely coachable.” True's Pittsburgh-area team practices at North Allegheny High School. The team plays in four tournaments over the summer and practices four days a week. “It's a club team and a lot of the top players in the area are on it,” said Smith, who has been involved with True since last fall. “It's a lot of fun.” True's national team won five games in the tournament and reached the championship game, where it lost to the Cyclones of North Carolina, 6-3. Smith said the national team had only one practice together as a unit before the tournament began. “That was OK because everybody picked up on each other's skills really quick,” he said. “That was definitely the highest level of lacrosse I've ever played.” Smith has been playing lacrosse for five years. He plays for the Mars Middle School team and has also played football and basketball in the district. Smith is a center in basketball, a linebacker-tackle in football, but lacrosse is his sport of choice. “For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to go on to college to play lacrosse. That's my goal,” Smith said. Usaj doubts he'll have any trouble getting there. “We've run leagues at Butler's Family Sports Center and we saw Nate play there,” Usaj said. “He missed tryouts last year, but we saw his potential and asked him to join the team. “We practice once a week in the fall and winter, then pick it up much heavier in the summer months. We run skill sessions, too, to help develop the players.” Usaj described Smith's potential in lacrosse as “out of this world.” “He loves the game, listens to coaches and has the physical tools,” Usaj said. “That's a pretty good combination.” Smith said he plans to concentrate on lacrosse in high school. “I might play basketball, too, but lacrosse is my No. 1 game,” he said. “It was an honor to go to that national tournament, experience the competition and play with and against different kids. “I just want to play more and more.”