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Heather Quinlisk | @uslacrosse
Tom Spangenberg is the president of the Mass Bay Youth Lacrosse League (MBYLL, Inc.). In his volunteer role, Tom leads one of the largest youth lacrosse organizations in the country with more than 20,000 players on 950 teams from 160-plus towns in eastern and central Massachusetts. The MBYLL is US Lacrosse’s largest youth league. Tom’s standards for excellence in coaching and player experience is high, as he requires all 800-plus MBYLL head coaches to participate in the US Lacrosse Coaching Education Program’s (CEP) Level 1 certification program.
I caught up with Tom and asked him why the MBYLL requires coaches to proceed through Level 1 of the CEP and achieve US Lacrosse certification.
“Coaching certification and a coach’s continuing education, especially at the youth level, are key determining factors in ensuring a player has a positive experience learning and playing the game we love,” Tom said.
“Coaches come in many different styles, however the most effective coaches excel in two primary areas,” Tom said. “First, as teachers of the game, they correctly teach the game to be played with safety in mind, along with teaching skills and strategy and making it fun. Secondly, as positive role models, they develop a player and team’s character on and off the field, teaching life lessons, sportsmanship, and fair play.
“As parents, we should demand all our coaches have the training and resources needed to be an effective coach with our children. Requiring US Lacrosse certification is a first step. The MBYLL has a strong and growing partnership with US Lacrosse and its Coaching Education Program, which is a key benefit to being a US Lacrosse member. That Level 1 certification for our head coaches means they’ve attended a live clinic, they’ve passed the online course, they’ve completed Positive Coaching Alliance’s (PCA) ‘Double-Goal Coach’ course online, and they’ve had a background check. That’s a broad range of instruction and development for a coach.”
PCA is a national organization that provides resources to coaches and parents to help them make kids’ participation in youth sports positive and character building. Positivecoach.org contains numerous articles and tips for both groups, and you’ll see more of them in a special package for parents in the March issue of Lacrosse Magazine. Tom touched on the MBYLL’s interaction with parents as well.
“We also encourage parents to go online and take the same US Lacrosse CEP Level 1 course online, which is free as part of US Lacrosse membership, as well as PCA’s online course for parents titled ‘Second-Goal Parents,’” he said. “Both of these courses help parents become better educated consumers and more effective advocates on how to ensure their child — and all participants — can have a positive lacrosse experience every season. US Lacrosse’s CEP provides the certification programs, guidance, tips and tools on how to get there. As parents & leaders, it is up to us to ensure these coaching certification and continuing education resources are used and implemented effectively with and for our coaches — and for the benefit of all boys and girls playing — in our town or city. Our collective lacrosse experience will thrive in our community when we do.”
For more than 10 years, US Lacrosse has been at the forefront of educating and training coaches. US Lacrosse-certified coaches are trained to promote a positive, safe environment where kids can “get the most out of their experiences in the sport,” said Erin Smith, director of education and training at US Lacrosse.
You can be a good lacrosse consumer by asking your league administrators if they require US Lacrosse certification for their coaches, or ask your child’s coach if he or she is US Lacrosse certified. If not, encourage them to do so. You’ll be helping your child to play safer and build a lifetime love for lacrosse.
Photo Credit: Jim Cowsert
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