After spending the last 18 months in development, US Lacrosse’s Gold Stick Program is being unveiled to the full membership this month. The program seeks to provide the best experience possible for youth lacrosse players by outlining the best practices that should be incorporated by quality youth lacrosse programs.
These best practices are built on seven standards:
- Adherence to youth rules and age guidelines
- A well-developed league administration
- Policies for safety and risk management
- A commitment to player safety and sportsmanship
- Having US Lacrosse screened, trained and certified coaches
- Using US Lacrosse trained and certified officials
- Valid US Lacrosse membership for all participants
US Lacrosse has worked with 12 pilot leagues across the country to refine the Gold Stick Program before launching nationwide. Involvement in Gold Stick is voluntary, and each league will monitor its own progress in reaching compliance with the standards.
“We knew that aspiring to the Gold Stick standards would help increase the lacrosse IQ in our area,” said Jim Olds of pilot program Hampton Roads (Va.) Lacrosse League. “We chopped the work into smaller pieces and also understood that we didn’t have to do it all in six months. It’s not designed to be done overnight.”
Leagues wishing to apply for the program should contact their local US Lacrosse chapter or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Once the application is accepted, a program will receive the “LAGSS” label—Leagues Affirming Gold Stick Standards.
Completion of the three phases of the LAGSS process—affirmation, improvement and accreditation—will ultimately brand the program with GSAL status as a Gold Stick Accredited League.
“We looked long and hard and said ‘Yes, we really should do this,’” said Nora Mitchell, executive director of the Northern California Junior Lacrosse Association. “There are impressive experts in place who will be sharing their perspectives, and we thought that would be valuable insight to have.”
“Gold Stick is a journey in which leagues will seek continued improvement,” said Wendell Lee, director of programs at US Lacrosse. “They will monitor their own progress in reaching benchmarked goals that will ultimately provide the safest environment for their players.”
Lee will host an introductory session about the Gold Stick Program Jan. 12 at the US Lacrosse National Convention, presented by Champion. Applications for the Gold Stick Program are expected to be available in early February.
Photo Credit: Damon Tarver
Wendell Lee’s Gold Stick Program presentation is one of more than 200 educational sessions for coaches, officials and administrators at the US Lacrosse National Convention, presented by Champion, Jan. 10-12 in Philadelphia. Walk-up registration is still available for $160.