With Valley’s 2012 season in the rear view mirror, we are now focused on the future of lacrosse in Central Iowa. After a successful pilot program last summer, the Central Iowa Lacrosse Association significantly expanded our youth lacrosse program this summer. A generous gift from West Genesse allowed us to equip a greater number of new players than last year. Partnering the Valley Lacrosse Club’s long time sponsor, the Walnut Creek YMCA, opened new doors and brought additional resources.
Knowing that asking parents to shell out hundreds of dollars for equipment on a sport that many are completely unfamiliar with is unfeasible, we devised a plan to structure our inaugural youth program around our resources. Last summer we acquired roughly 20 sets of equipment thanks to the liquidation of Adidas Lacrosse and local generosity. Although not enough to equip a full league, it did provide us with a foundation. This cache also dictated our program’s structure.
Rather than collecting and redistributing equipment a few times each week, we opted to check equipment out for the duration of the program. This meant that we could only check gear out to 20 players. The only logical course of action was to provide that gear to the older boys, some of whom could choose to play for the Tigers come fall.
This left the younger boys without full protection. So a plan was devised to teach them vital stick skills with soft pink balls and Chumash goals. To keep things simple, the younger group was also capped at 20 boys.
We launched our program with 40 boys in grades 5-8 (2010-11 school year) and a few more unfortunately turned away. Because of the odd numbers and fluctuating number and experience of the volunteers, we split the 5-6 graders from the 7-8 graders. Each group was then broken down into three teams. Following a clinic system, each team played two games and participated in a training session each night in a rotation.
Last summer’s program was our first foray into youth lacrosse. It brought 40 new players into the game. But it was not exactly what we wanted. Like the players themselves, we truly desired a stronger structure. We wanted something more like Pee Wee Football and Little League Baseball: set teams, individual practices and games, and real competition as part of the development process.
More importantly, we wanted to open space for more players. We wanted to equipment them all. We wanted to teach them all real lacrosse with six offensive players facing a full defense, complete with a goalie. And we wanted to get the girls involved as well.
Before the program even started, we took the first step in our quest for a bigger, better youth program. We applied for a US Lacrosse Equipment Grant.