This article appears in the May/June edition of US Lacrosse Magazine as part of a series on community-based lacrosse leagues that are thriving despite the growing trend toward privatization in youth sports. Don’t get the mag? Join US Lacrosse to start your subscription.

Amanda Gerich, president of one of the largest youth lacrosse organizations in America, grew up in a place where the sport scarcely existed — a hamlet called Endwell, an endearingly named suburb of Binghamton.

This tiny slice of New York’s Southern Tier region became internationally known in 2016, when it won the Little League World Series.

But in Endwell, there is no Little League for lacrosse.

Gerich, 35, picked up the sport in high school and played at Hartwick College. Community-based youth lacrosse remained a foreign concept until she moved to Stamford, Conn., to work in the financial services industry. There she discovered the Stamford Lacrosse Association, first as a coach, then as an administrator.

Gerich’s accounting expertise led her to numerous volunteer roles, first with the SLA and then with the Connecticut New York Youth Lacrosse Association, or CONNY. A non-profit organization that serves more than 12,000 players and 600 teams covering nearly all of Connecticut and most of lower West Chester County in New York, CONNY’s tentacles stretch as far as the Hudson and Connecticut Valleys, where towns opt in because of the quality of play and coaching the league offers.

“We cover the masses,” said Gerich, who took over as the league’s president in January. “It’s grabbing the 80 percent versus the top 10 to 20 percent.”

Established in March of 1990, CONNY will commemorate its 30th anniversary in 2020.

“The ability to change and adapt have factored our longevity,” said Gerich, who took over as the league’s president in January. “The people that started CONNY didn’t sit on their heels and let the game pass them by. We’ve adapted.”

Among ways CONNY has adapted is to provide training for all of its coaches, including parent volunteers. Every CONNY coach attends at least one US Lacrosse Coach Development Program clinic and completes a PCA Double Goal Coach online workshop.

Gerich is particularly enthusiastic about US Lacrosse’s efforts to integrate and pay for background checks and SafeSport training for all member coaches. With the ease of access to online resources, Gerich anticipates that most CONNY coaches will qualify for CDP Level 1 certification by 2020 — just in time for that 30-year milestone.