Junior John Aliber remembers growing up with lacrosse sticks laying around the house. They were left there by his older brother, and all then-eight-year-old Aliber needed to do was pick one up. Now, he’s starting his third varsity season on the East lacrosse team, fresh off finishing his sophomore year as the Lacrosse Association of Kansas City (LAKC) championship tournament MVP.
“I started playing lacrosse in second grade, competitively in fifth grade,” he said. “It’s just kind of been in my blood.”
Aliber’s father, Bill Aliber, played college lacrosse as a defenseman for Brown University, and has been present in Aliber’s lacrosse career since second grade. From pushing him to pick up the sport to running the scoreboard at East lacrosse games and lining up balls, his father is also like a coach, giving Aliber advice and pointing out areas for improvement.
When Aliber isn’t playing for East in the spring, Aliber’s lacrosse season continues into November. Starting in early June, he plays for a club travel team called Titanium, formerly called KC Orange. He says it’s a long season, but he enjoys the heightened level of competition. Titanium competes in tournaments across the country with teammates from all over Kansas City.
“Titanium is a lot more competitive,” he said. “We’re going and playing the best kids at a big tournament versus Kansas City where we’re playing teams with players that are just now starting.”
Lacrosse is not a school-sponsored sport — there aren’t enough teams in Kansas for KHSAA to organize a state competition. But Aliber says that it’s officially known as the largest-growing sport in America. He hopes that it becomes more popular in the area and that East’s program will only get better.
Aliber loves the sport itself — the level of contact, the physicality. Though lacrosse is team sport, what draws Aliber to is is how independent he feels within the East lacrosse “Family.” As an attackman, he chooses when he wants to pass, when he wants to drive and when he wants to score.
After almost 10 years on the lacrosse field and countless goals scored, there’s still one moment that sticks out in Aliber’s mind as his greatest. He was one of three freshmen to be rostered on the Varsity team.
“I never really thought that I would be starting Varsity or even playing Varsity as a freshman,” he said. “And that was just kind of huge to me coming from a school where it’s not that big of a deal to here where they had just won a state title.”
Freshman year, he scored seven goals by playing a couple minutes each game. Then he scored a personal record of 40 goals last season after starting and playing almost every game from start to finish. Aliber had 11 goals in the first two games of the season, and fully intends to break that record and help win East boys’ lacrosse their fourth championship.
Aliber discusses the team’s goals for this season and their leadership
Aliber discusses head coach Chris Kliewer’s thoughts and the obstacles that the team has faced