By US Lacrosse | @uslacrosse
The US Lacrosse vision statement clearly articulates the desire to open doors to the sport and through grants and additional resources, that vision is becoming a reality.
There are lots of obstacles to building a new lacrosse program, but here’s one you don’t expect to hear: the weather is too good.
“A big challenge for us is that many sports are year-round,” said Tracy Maahs, president of the North Orange County Girls’ Lacrosse club in Yorba Linda, Calif.
The pleasant climate in Southern California allows for sports to flourish all year long and that makes it harder to find multi-sport athletes. And trying a new sport can be expensive. The club applied for, and was accepted into the US Lacrosse First Stick Program, helping to eliminate a financial barrier for players new to the sport.
The First Stick Program is designed to deliver key resources, including equipment, US Lacrosse membership and coaches training. It is geared for new and developing youth and high school lacrosse teams. A total of 125 programs received grants in 2013.
There was a need for the program in the area.
“In our school district there are four high schools with girls’ programs, but there was no youth program,” said Maahs.
Brian Eisenberg coaches one of those high school programs, El Doroado High, in addition to coaching at Chapman Univeristy. Eisenberg helped get the North Orange County girls’ club started and now has some of his Chapman players coaching in the program.
Potential athletes like Maahs’ own daughter, Emily, had no place to get ready for high school lacrosse before the club started. Emily wasn’t drawn to other sports, but had a great time attending a street hockey tournament through school. Tracy thought lacrosse would provide similar excitement.
North Orange County was established to fill that void for Emily and other girls in the area, and the First Stick Program has made it easier for those players to give lacrosse a try.
The North Orange County club started a year ago, but with just eight players didn’t have enough to fill a full roster. With the help of the First Stick Program, the club more than doubled to nearly 20 players for the 2013-14 winter season, and combined with another club to field full teams at both the U13 and U15 levels in an Orange County winter league.
All of it is adding up to a strong foundation for hopeful young girls’ lacrosse players in the area.
“It feels like things are starting to ramp up,” said Maahs. “I think we’re in good shape to grow the club.”
- Impacted more than 3,000 players through the US Lacrosse First Stick Program in 2013.
- Helped introduce the sport to new players with 342 “soft lacrosse” equipment grants awarded. The program uses a curriculum originally designed for school physical education classes to help introduce the sport. It has expanded beyond schools to various community groups.
- Provided free resources through the New Start Program to 755 applicants (teams, leagues, programs), representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
- Awarded grants to 27 US Lacrosse Chapters worth $37,000 to help support local development efforts.
- Conducted physical education workshops in eight states to help expand opportunities for youth to experience lacrosse.
Download a copy of our 2013 Annual Report to learn more about how we’re providing leadership, delivering education, creating opportunity and ensuring safety for the national lacrosse community.