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.
After last year’s program wrapped up, I sent a survey to all of the participants to determine what worked, what did not, and what changes they would like to see. Nearly everybody indicated a strong desire for a traditional league experience. Because that has been my personal desire since Day 1, I agreed. Once our equipment conundrum was resolved, I knew that we had the basic tools to make it happen.
Working closely with our board, Coach Zielonko and I laid out our vision for the 2012 Youth Lacrosse Program:
- Expand the pool to include current fourth through eighth graders, based on the 2011-12 school year
- Divide the pool between players that would be eligible for Valley next season (7-8) and those that would not (4-6)
- Week One would consist solely of clinic stations to facilitate evaluating skills to make balanced rosters
- Practices on Monday nights with games later in the week (Thursday)
- Run the season from early June through early August, with a break at the halfway point (Independence Day)
- Establish “coaching staffs” of two Valley players and parents. This allows parents to learn more about the game in a hands-on environment while the city’s most skilled laxers do the heavy lifting.
- Valley coaches will officiate and generally oversee things, as well as run the Week One clinic
Once we established the structure for the boys, we contacted Coach DuPass about her plans for girls’ lacrosse. We had long hoped to find a way to integrate our two groups and this program seemed like the perfect opportunity to do so. After I laid out our plans, Coach DuPass joined our effort.
We expected a smaller pool of girls from the start, but we assumed there would be enough to break them into similar groups based on age. Whereas the boys would unquestioningly need two fields and four goals per hour/age group, we figured the girls could get by with half of that. After all, the boys’ program had the advantage of last year’s trial run.
Over the course of the 2012 Valley Lacrosse season, I learned how difficult handling administrative duties at home really is. Unlike years past, I have a yard, baby, and dog commanding constant attention. With my full time work schedule and commitment to Valley, I knew that handling the larger number of registrations would be nigh impossible. Luckily we had a potential partner waiting in the wings…
Since its inception, the Valley Lacrosse Club has partnered with the Walnut Creek YMCA. Although the level of cooperation and sponsorship has varied from year-to-year, the Walnut Creek Y has maintained a continual presence with the Tigers.
With the deep roots in the local lacrosse community relative to other organizations, it made sense to contact the YMCA first. Of course the Y was interested in offering another youth sport. After a few meetings, they offered to supply additional lacrosse equipment to help accommodate the influx of new players above the gift the Central Iowa Lacrosse Association received from West Genesee.
A couple more local non-profit organizations, park and recreation departments, etc. contacted us about hosting lacrosse equipment. Though some matched or exceeded the infrastructure of the Y, none were able to pony up the cash for lacrosse equipment. Unfortunately none were willing or able to partner with the Y through the Central Iowa Lacrosse Association, instead desiring their own program that ultimately could not launch due to limited resources. Luckily there is nothing exclusive or binding about our agreement with the Y. We have the option to explore opportunities with these other entities as time allows. Hopefully we will be able to develop clinics and other programs in the near future…
But I digress.
The YMCA offered to shoulder the burden of registrations, uniforms, stick acquisition, etc. and gave us virtual autonomy in exchange. Through our partnership, we were able to not only reach a whole new group of kids and ensure that they are properly equipped this summer. The Y receives the benefit of having an exclusive (for now) sport being taught by the coaches and players of the state’s only (for now) high school team – a team that has been successful on the field since day one.
With everything in place and June rapidly approaching, we laid out our final plans. The first session of the 2012 Youth Lacrosse Program would quickly become one of the most memorable experiences of my life…