Grow The Game. This seems to be an increasing theme in the lacrosse world west of Pennsylvania. US Lacrosse has done a tremendous job in facilitating the ability to bring lacrosse to regions all over the world. There are many difficulties that arise when you have a relatively young organization (US Lacrosse was founded Jan 1, 1998) in charge of putting forth rules and best practices as well as trying to organize the fastest growing sports in the nation. Currently there are 65 US Lacrosse staff and over 400,000 members. That’s all I’m going to say about US Lacrosse, my goal here is to establish the point that lacrosse can only be as successful as its community wants it to be.
Lacrosse in Utah is growing quickly, each year more teams are starting up and kids are playing the game younger and younger; I refereed games last spring for 1st and 2nd graders for crying out loud. With the expansion of the game comes a need for more experienced coaches, officials, and team parents. I feel like we have a decent number of people who grew up playing lacrosse in Utah coming back and giving back to a lacrosse community, but we need that alumni group to continue growing.
The number of officials in Utah lacrosse is hurting. Don’t get me wrong, being an official can be brutal sometimes but the training that is offered is some of the best in the nation. It isn’t hard to take a few hours out of your week to give back and support a game that gave you so much during your time playing. Even if you don’t want to referee high school games, the youth level is in need of officials as well. Plus you get paid a decent amount for the amount of time you are out there.
Since teams are starting up all over the state, some of these teams are being coached by parents or people who don’t have much experience. There are incredible opportunities to learn, whether you attend a convention or clinic or watch a higher level team practice there is always something to be learned. I think us, as a community, need to help the new coaches gain experience and knowledge. If you are a high school coach, make sure your youth coaches are aware of learning opportunities. If you are a new coach, continue to look around and ask questions because coaching is dynamic and constantly evolving.
Team parents often get left out of the equation when it comes to growing a successful team but I can tell you from experience that having a strong parent board can make a world of difference. I have been lucky to be part of a team who has had an amazing parent board for years. The strides taken, especially in the past 5 years, have made the players experience exponentially better. I have heard horror stories about other parent boards and I think that this comes from a lack of experience and a selfish drive. Everyone wants the best for their kid, this is perfectly normal, but when your focus is only on your kid the program generally suffers. I have heard nothing but positive reviews from parents who attended the Utah Lacrosse Convention. To all the parents: keep the experience of the whole program in mind when making decisions and ask questions when you meet other parent reps to see what works for their program.
I’m not saying every player needs to come back to Utah and put in time here. Hopefully all players go off and have a successful college experience, whether or not they play lacrosse. I hope if they had a good experience they take that and help a program wherever they get the chance. Growing The Game is sort of like the chicken and the egg conundrum; if a player doesn’t enjoy the game he/she won’t want to give back to the sport. However, to help that player enjoy the sport they have to have first-class coaches, high-quality officials and be a part of a first-rate program. Like I said before, my goal here is to help Grow The Game and these are just my opinions. If you have any pointers or suggestions, or would like to get involved in lacrosse please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. And be sure to check out the conversations going on in the Utah Lacrosse News Community.
Photo courtesy of Haslam Photography
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