Don Hilton hears it all the time. He reads about it on lacrosse websites. He hears about it watching the sport on television.
"Atlanta is becoming a new hot-bed for lacrosse," Hilton said.
And Hilton wants to be a part of it as the new head boys lacrosse coach at North Forsyth next season. The Forsyth County Board of Education approved the hire last night.
"I’m very excited to get started," Hilton said. "Very interested to the see the quality of student athlete they have there. I’ve heard nothing but great things. They have great facilities, so that should produce great athletes."
Hilton comes to the Raiders after two seasons as defensive coordinator at Florida State. The Seminoles, who play in the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association, went 14-5 and 9-7 the past two seasons, respectively, reaching the SouthEastern Lacrosse Conference playoffs each season.
Hilton, a native of Long Island, N.Y., has also been a high school assistant coach, middle school head coach and liaison for a youth feeder program in New York.
"I think we’re getting experience and leadership in a game that is growing so fast in Forsyth County," North Forsyth athletic director Nathan Turner said. "We’re getting a leader in lacrosse. His background and pedigree is really, really strong."
Hilton said he plans to move to Georgia in early July and hold a team camp soon after to get to know his team. He’ll find a Raiders boys lacrosse program that hasn’t developed as quickly as its counterparts on the south side of Forsyth. Hilton replaces former head coach Mike Yeager, who went 16-19 in two seasons but just 1-13 in area play.
Hilton already knows what North Forsyth is up against, that the Raiders play in arguably the toughest lacrosse region with Centennial and Lambert, who both reached the Class 6A finals this past season.
But Hilton said he thinks North Forsyth can get there too.
"When you have beautiful weather year-round and disciplined athletes that focus a lot on football," Hilton said, "you’re producing the proper ingredients to make a dynamite lacrosse program."
Hilton won’t be able to make a significant impact yet. He said his late hire means the Raiders won’t have the complete summer program he envisions for the next several years. There will be a camp, some workouts and then Hilton said football practice will soon take priority.
Come spring, Hilton said he plans to build the Raiders program from the ground up.
"Fundamentals," Hilton said. "It’s all about fundamentals, picking up groundballs, having a high possession rate on offense. Focusing on outside shots and definitely making sure we dominate at the faceoff."