University City

Carolina Miners youth lacrosse program keeps busy schedule

Brett Frood will lead the Under-9 Carolina Miners this week at the Hershey Lacrosse Shootout in Hershey, Pa.
Brett Frood will lead the Under-9 Carolina Miners this week at the Hershey Lacrosse Shootout in Hershey, Pa. COURTESY OF CHRIS MCCARTAN

Brett Frood is executive vice president of Stewart-Haas Racing and president of Tony Stewart Enterprises. He also is a coach with the Carolina Miners youth lacrosse program, which has a heavy presence in the University City area.

You might be surprised at which team he spends more weekends with over the summer.

Frood leads the Miners’ under-9 boys travel team, which has spent almost as many weekends on the road this summer as any NASCAR team. The Miners have won three of the five tournaments in which they have played around the Southeast between late spring and early summer.

“I grew up around sports, so for me it’s all competition,” said Frood, comparing lacrosse and auto racing. “It’s athletes and teamwork and leadership, all the attributes that I’ve been around. The skill sets are very similar. What is transferable is a bunch of people that want to work together, being good teammates and wanting to win.”

On July 18-19, the Miners will conclude their season by playing in Hershey Lacrosse Shootout in Hershey, Pa. The other Miners travel teams for under-11 and under-13 boys finished their seasons earlier this month.

The Miners began play in January, 2014. Co-founder and coach Chris McCartan says there are 325 boys and girls in the program and that 70-80 percent of those live in the Highland Creek/Skybrook neighborhoods. The team’s other co-founder is Mike Habel.

The Miners’ year is divided into three seasons. Teams travel to tournaments during the first half of the summer. The Miners Under-13 team, which is coached by McCartan, won two of the five tournaments in which it played and was runner-up in two others.

The fall season is much more informal. Players train and scrimmage and may play a few games with teams from other organizations.

In the spring, the Miners host their own recreational leagues. Teams play and practice at Concord’s Cox Mill Elementary School, Huntersville Athletic Park, and the Hambright soccer Fields, also in Huntersville.

Those fields are closer to Frood’s Davidson home. He’s a native of upstate New York though, from a town near Syracuse, home of the Syracuse Orangemen, the most storied college lacrosse program in the country.

That’s where McCartan played, helping the 1998 Orangemen to the NCAA championship. Frood played collegiately at rival Brown, a two-time Ivy League champion during his tenure.

McCartan, a Concord attorney, and Frood met through a mutual friend, Toby Price, a former Syracuse teammate of McCartan’s. They had coached youth lacrosse together for a couple of years before joining the Miners last year.

Through his positions with Stewart-Haas Racing and Tony Stewart Enterprises, Frood reports directly to team owners Tony Stewart and Gene Haas. Frood says Stewart has emphasized the importance of his staff’s families since he joined his team in 2004.

“Lacrosse is a time-consuming commitment from February to the end of the July,” said Frood. “My kids are going to be doing it anyway. My wife is going to be involved in it. I would ... be involved on the sideline and helping out and hopefully making a difference.”

Frood attended the Coke Zero 400 in Daytona on July 5, the first weekend since May that he was on the road with Stewart-Haas Racing. The Miners tournament schedule had interfered.

“The guy has no kill switch,” said McCartan. “He has one of the most important jobs among all of us. He’s humble about it. When the kids are with him, it’s a business trip. You are learning something about lacrosse. We’re not here to socialize, but we’re here to have fun.”

Frood says there are usually six to 12 teams in under-9 tournaments. He says the Hershey tournament is a little more competitive with up to 10 of the top teams in the country participating.

Frood said some of his team’s strengths are that most of the players have been teammates for a couple years now, and that so many of them can handle their sticks with both hands, a skill he says few players had when he was his players’ age.

Joe Habina is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Joe? Email him at joehabina@gmail.com.

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