Discover Lacrosse – “The Fastest Game On Two Feet”

art-115-lacrosse

Photo by Chris Flentye

Springtime isn’t just for baseball anymore. More and more kids are suiting up for lacrosse – a fast-paced, high-adrenaline game that’s said to be a combination of soccer, hockey and basketball. A true American pastime, lacrosse was first played by Native Americans centuries ago on huge fields with over 100 players on each team.

Modern day boys’ lacrosse is played with 10 players on the field for each team – three attackers, three midfielders, three defenders, and a goalie. Girls are allowed two extra midfielders for a total of 12. You score by shooting the ball into your opponent’s goal.

The challenge is using a lacrosse stick (no hands!) to catch, carry and pass the ball. Boys’ lacrosse adds an element of physical contact, having the boys wear pads and allowing different forms of “checking.” Girls skip the padding and have less contact.

Sound like fun? Nicknamed the “fastest game on two feet,” lacrosse has exploded onto the sports scene in the last decade. US Lacrosse reports that over 680,000 players participated on lacrosse teams in 2011. That’s 60,000 more than the year before – making lacrosse one of the fastest growing team sports in America. At the high school and NCAA levels, lacrosse is the number one, fastest growing sport. Turn on ESPN, CBS Sports Network, or NBC Sports and you just might find one of the 100 plus collegiate and professional games that are broadcast each year.

Getting Started

Photo by Nigel Skeet- NorthState Studios

Photo by Nigel Skeet- NorthState Studios

With all this excitement surrounding lacrosse, there are plenty of opportunities to get your kid in on the fun. What’s a good age to get the ball rolling? There’s no perfect age, although many lacrosse programs start in first grade. Consider your child’s personality and skill set, and for boys remember that lacrosse is a contact sport – which only adds to the fun for many boys! Is your son ready for the physical side of lacrosse? You know your kiddo and are the best judge of that.

So your child is ready to give it a try. How should you get started? Borrow a friend or neighbor’s lacrosse stick and get a taste of the sport … try scooping the ball off the ground and passing it back and forth with a friend. After getting a feel for it, sign up for one of the free lacrosse clinics offered by most local lacrosse programs. Loaner equipment and sticks are usually provided, so all you need to do is show up and see if you like it.

“Come try it out. We will loan you a stick, get on the field with you, and show you how it works. You will find the sport to be the most fun you have ever had playing a game, and you will realize that you will have become part of a second family,” says Chad New, president of Redding Lacrosse. “There’s one problem,” he adds … “you won’t want to give the stick back!”

If your child is hooked after the clinic, sign him or her up for a season. Check out the US Lacrosse website at http://www.uslacrosse.org/TopNav/Chapters/USLacrosseChapters.aspx to find your local lacrosse chapter. In the meantime, New encourages anyone interested in the sport to pick and follow a favorite college or Major League Lacrosse (MLL) team. Many games are shown on YouTube, he says.

Equipment

Once your child joins the rookie ranks, he or she will need the proper equipment. Because boys are allowed more physical contact during games, they need more protective equipment than girls. Boys need a helmet, lacrosse stick, shoulder pads, arm pads, gloves, mouth guard, athletic cup and cleats. Many sporting goods stores and online sites offer lacrosse “starter kits.” You can expect to spend about $200 to get your son suited up.

Girls need goggles, a lacrosse stick, mouth guard, and cleats. A girls’ lacrosse starter kit costs around $85. Many lacrosse leagues and clubs have coupons for discounts on starter kits, so be sure to ask before you buy.

What to Expect

After your child signs up for a season, they’ll be assigned to a team and begin practicing. Depending on the program, they’ll typically start with one or two practices a week and then add one or two games per week as the season gets going.

Also expect comradery and new friendships. Lacross brings together amazing coaches who help create a caring, supportive atmosphere. Jim Osgood, president of Chico Rebels Lacrosse Club, says, “We are also fortunate to have a great relationship with the Chico State Lacrosse team. Many of the players help with coaching and clinics. Lacrosse is a fun, fast-paced and exciting sport that really brings the Chico community together.”

Indeed this is an action-packed, high-octane sport, so expect a lot of movement during both practices and games. Bring plenty of water and healthy snacks, and have fun cheering on your superstar.

Benefits of Lacrosse

Why get involved in lacrosse?  The many upsides of lacrosse include:

  • Physical fitness: Lacrosse is a great way to get moving and get in shape!  The fast pace of lacrosse offers a great cardio workout. In addition, throwing and catching is excellent for developing hand-eye coordination.
  • Teamwork: Learning to work as a team will benefit your child both on the field and off.
  • Fun and friendship: Lacrosse can be a blast, and sharing that fun can lead to enduring friendships. Sign up for a season with your buddies, or make new friends on the team.
  • Equal opportunity: Think lacrosse is mostly for boys? Not anymore – 36% of kids playing lacrosse are girls. In addition, lacrosse can be a fit for kids with a broad range of body types.

Beyond Pee Wees

Lacrosse is a great sport to grow with your child. As lacrosse’s popularity continues to skyrocket, more and more middle and high school teams are being formed. Chances are your child’s middle or high school will have a team.

If lacrosse turns into a passion your child excels at, one of the surprise benefits may be a college scholarship! Thousands of NCAA lacrosse scholarships go out to boys and girls each year. Even without a college scholarship, there are plenty of opportunities to keep playing lacrosse in college and beyond. So give it a try and see if lacrosse becomes a lifelong passion for your child. 

Lacrosse Resources

Chico Rebels Lacrosse Club
http://www.chicorebels.com
http://www.facebook.com/ChicoRebelsLacrosse
Info: Jim Osgood, president@chicorebels.org(530) 966-2809

Has teams ages 9 through high school for both boys and girls. Season consists of 12-13 games running late January  through early May. The season finishes with an all-day lacrosse tournament. In the fall, sign up for lacrosse clinics and box lacrosse (indoor lacrosse).

Chico Rebels is hosting a 1-day winter clinic January 17, open to boys and girls of all ages and skill levels. The annual “Laxapalooza” takes place in October and features a half-day clinic, coaches’ corner and scrimmage. It’s a fun, easy way to grab a stick and give lacrosse a try, with experienced coaches and players. 

Redding Lacrosse
“Come play lacrosse, we run with sticks.”
http://www.reddinglacrosse.com
http://www.facebook.com/ReddingLacrosse
Info:  Chad New, Chadmnew@gmail.com(530) 921-0338.

For ages 5 through adults. Offers league play with varsity and introductory level spring seasons, travel teams, open play, pick-up games, tournaments, new adult league and camps for boys and girls. Current season runs late January through early May. 

The annual Redding Lacrosse Jamboree takes place February 20-22 at Redding Soccer Park. Features over 30 teams and two college games. Come see how the game is played!

Major League Lacrosse:
http://www.MajorLeagueLacrosse.com
Find out what’s up with lacrosse Major League teams!

Northern California Junior LaCross Association:
http://www.ncjla.org
http://www.facebook.com/NCJLA
Learn about Northern CA resources for youth lacrosse.

US Lacrosse:
http://www.uslacrosse.org
Great resource for lacrosse history and info; includes videos.

Jessica Baldis
About Jessica Baldis

Author Jessica Baldis will spend the month of October concocting a plan to secretly extract all the Almond Joys from her three sons' Halloween buckets and hoard them for herself.

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