The Valore name has been synonymous with South Jersey high school basketball for the past 50 years.
Now, that name has shifted from the gyms to the lacrosse fields.
J.C. and Jennifer Valore — a brother/sister tandem — are trying influence the growth of lacrosse in South Jersey. J.C. Valore is the coach at St. Augustine Prep, while Jennifer Valore is coach at Our Lady of Mercy Academy.
Their father, John Valore, is a legend within the South Jersey basketball community, having retired after this past season at 73 years old.
J.C., 38, and Jennifer, 40, didn’t know it at the time, but growing up in a house with someone as passionate toward a sport as their father was with basketball sparked similar feelings they have now for lacrosse.
The passion they have for the sport led J.C. to start the South Shore Lacrosse program in 2007. In 2016, Jennifer started the girls program.
Today, the boys program includes about 175 boys on eight teams and about 115 girls on six teams. The players are in grades 5 to 12.
“South Shore is about introducing athletes to the sport,” J.C. said.
Growing the sport of lacrosse any way they can has been a lifelong goal.
Of course, the Valores played basketball at Moorestown High School. Jennifer was a four-year starter on the girls team.
“It was her sheer athleticism and competitive nature,” said J.C., who spent three years on the boys team.
J.C. remembers Moorestown starting a boys lacrosse program about 1992, when he was in seventh grade. There were only a couple of other teams around, including the Black Storm and the Cherry Hill Boys.
Still, it earned him the opportunity to play for NCAA Division I University of Delaware, from where he graduated in 2002.
The girls had a few more youth lacrosse teams back then, and Jennifer wound up playing for D-I James Madison, where she graduated in 2000.
They made the most of the few lacrosse opportunities they received growing up. That’s the goal of South Shore Lacrosse — to create more opportunities for players in South Jersey.
“I enjoy giving girls, especially from the South Jersey area, the opportunity to play a high level of lacrosse and grow and develop as players,” Jennifer said. “It’s been an awesome experience for me.”
That love for lacrosse led to an interest in coaching.
While Jennifer was coaching at various camps and clinics, her brother took over a very young St. Augustine program in 2003. The Hermits are now considered one of the top programs in South Jersey, having won eight conference titles and reached the state Non-Public A title game twice.
Jennifer has done her own building, too. She helped start the women’s program at the University of Michigan in 2011 and spent years coaching at Widener and Temple.
She came back to the area, now residing in Philadelphia, and was hired by OLMA to take over the girls lacrosse program last spring, and as the school’s dean of academics and leadership last fall.
“She’s going through her early hurdles,” J.C. said.
Where OLMA is now following a 7-10 season looks familiar to where St. Augustine was in 2003, when her brother started there. But that’s most likely where the comparisons will end.
“I don’t have any ideas of replicating what he did at St. Augustine,” Jennifer said. “OLMA is its own program, and my focus is on raising that bar each year and building that way.”
She still doesn’t shy away from calling her brother or her father on her way to school nearly every day. High school lacrosse is very different from the college game she worked in for years.
She’s not afraid to ask her brother and father how they might handle situations she’s come across.
“Honestly, for me, it’s about sharing a love and a passion I have with lacrosse,” she said.