This article appears in the November edition of US Lacrosse Magazine, available exclusively to US Lacrosse members. Join or renew today! Thank you for your support.

In 2006, a youth soccer organization that also administered youth lacrosse as an auxiliary program in Idaho decided that it was dropping lacrosse. The game had grown beyond its ability to manage it. 

Motivated by the desire to continue providing a lacrosse outlet for youth players, Maggie Williams stepped into the vacuum and founded the Treasure Valley Youth Lacrosse League, based in Boise. Even though her own sons, TJ and Alex, had already moved into high school at the time, Williams committed to creating opportunities for other kids. She also enlisted her husband, Tom, in the effort.

“We’ve always been involved in the community,” she said. “For many years, we had been active in the Optimist Youth Football League, so we figured we could model the new lacrosse league with how they did things. They had a good program.”

Williams has remained involved in almost every aspect of the TVYLL’s operation since its inception. From registration to scheduling and everything in between, Williams has dutifully served the organization. After 14 years of year-round commitment, Williams, the consummate volunteer, is stepping down. The founder is retiring from the TVYLL’s board. 

“She’s been the guiding light,” said Russ Wheeler, president of the Idaho Chapter of US Lacrosse.

The TVYLL has been the sole provider of recreational lacrosse play for boys and girls youth in the greater Boise area, known as Treasure Valley.

“Everyone in the community agrees that without her the sport would not have survived in the region,” said Lyn Porterfield, regional director for US Lacrosse.

Due in part to the TVYLL’s presence and fueled further by the current population explosion with transplants moving into the region, lacrosse in Treasure Valley is experiencing a boom. The league had about 1,000 participants in 2019, its last full season prior to the pandemic.

“Without the TVYLL, lacrosse would have not grown. Period,” said Kristy Sligar, a longtime girls’ coach and official.

In addition to his role as chapter president, Wheeler is an official and has served two terms as the high school boys’ league commissioner. He said high school lacrosse participation has grown nearly 200 percent in the area and from 10 teams to 28, with significant credit to Williams.

“Maggie picked up the reins for youth lacrosse and put it on her shoulders,” Wheeler said. “Without the youth league, there wouldn’t be much of a high school league today.”

One of the TVYLL’s goals has always been to help develop players with sound skills and game knowledge so that they are prepared to compete upon reaching high school. The fact that so many have done so through the years is a testament to the commitment of Williams and the other TVYLL volunteers.

“When we first started, we had so many kids who had no idea how to play this game,” Williams said. “It’s been so fun to watch how people have grown in their understanding of lacrosse in this area.”

Former TVYLL players now have come back to the league as coaches, officials and volunteers. Both of Williams’ sons played in college and now, as adults, have given back to the game as coaches within the TVYLL and at the local high schools.

“There have been so many wonderful relationships that I have built through the years,” said Williams, a self-described extrovert. “I love being out at the fields and talking to people.”

Appreciation for Williams’ efforts are not hard to find among those in the Idaho lacrosse community.

“Maggie has been the glue that’s held the TVYLL together for so many years,” Sligar said. “She has put in endless hours of work to keep it functional and growing. It was through her leadership that many coaches and parents got involved in lacrosse in our area.”

Despite the many hours that league administration has demanded of her, Williams acknowledges that walking away is bittersweet. She’ll never be far from lacrosse.

“Those who know me know how much I love the game,” she said. “This is the best game. How do you not love it?”

LOCALLY GROWN: PACIFIC NORTHWEST

Alaska 

US Lacrosse First Stick Program grant recipient Anchorage Lacrosse and director Gabe Lipchik paid it forward with a recent Wheelchair Lacrosse clinic — the first ever in Alaska — in partnership with Challenge Alaska.

Idaho 

Congratulations to the class of 2020. The Idaho Chapter of US Lacrosse inducted three members of the community into its Hall of Fame in 2020: Dan Hislop, Michelle Jeffries and Jim Pape.

California 

The Hall of Fame train continues. US Lacrosse’s NorCal chapter enshrined three of its own into with the 2020 class: Rick Jeffery, Johnny Christmas and Kristine Love.

Oregon 

Prior to the pandemic, the Oregon Girls Lacrosse Association hosted the last US Lacrosse Coach Development Program Level 1 clinic in the state in 2020, part of an all-in strategy requiring Level 1 certification for all of its volunteer coaches. Nearly 60 coaches attended the clinic.