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.
Without a doubt, Iowa fits the definition of a “new area” when it comes to lacrosse. Although both major state universities have had club teams for a couple of decades, the sport has virtually no presence here. Both teams, and the others scattered at smaller colleges across the state, rely primarily on out-of-state transplants. On the rare occasion that a native Iowan is on the roster, odds are that he has no prior experience. The establishment of the Valley team has helped change that, but one high school team can only contribute so much…
Having only one high school team in the state and virtually no resources for expansion made the Central Iowa Lacrosse Association’s application seem like a shoo-in. Our small, but determined efforts indicated that we were (and are) dedicated to growing the game here. Last year’s pilot program gave us a foundation upon which to build.
So imagine our collective shock when I received this email in October:
Thank you for your interest in our 2011 US Lacrosse Equipment Grant Program. Unfortunately, we are not able to provide you with an equipment grant this year. The interest in the program was phenomenal and US Lacrosse received over 150 applications this year. Regrettably, there are many qualified programs that we cannot accommodate this year. Please feel free to apply again in 2012; as we grow as an organization, our ability to provide more grants each year will grow as well. We are truly sorry that we are unable to offer you an equipment grant at this time.
Needless to say, I was upset and a little shocked. Here we are, an unfunded program on lacrosse’s final frontier, run completely by volunteers and dedicated to growing the game. Yet we were not
good enough worthy of receiving assistance from the sport’s governing body.
This news lead me to write one of the most controversial posts of my lacrosse career, as well as a follow up. Although my dissatisfaction displays itself plainly in both posts, I do not regret their writing.* Challenging authority can be productive. Changes to the program come about through such challenges; the First Stick initiative is one of those changes.
At the end of the day, I am certain that US Lacrosse practiced diligence before awarding any equipment packages last year. The list appears to be the most diverse in the history of the program, which is a great thing. Seeing Albuquerque, Los Alamos, and Mobile included indicates that the organization had some tough choices to make…
Stunned but not dead, we continued looking for alternative avenues to obtain equipment. With little traction heading into the new year, we started to scale back our plans. Hope was not lost, but it was severely diminished.
*Though my anger over the issue has subsided substantially.