Why Club Lacrosse is Good for the Game
Isn’t it funny when you say certain states, locations, towns that people automatically think that you were born with a lacrosse stick in your hand? I grew up in Hicksville, Long Island in the early 1990’s and the lacrosse landscape was entirely different than what I now know. Baseball was still king, no matter what many lacrosse phanatics want to say, and there was no such notion of this thing called “Club Lacrosse”. I remember my parents asking me in 3rd grade if I wanted to play lacrosse because that was the first year it was offered by my town. I loved sports and my friends were also doing it, so I was pretty psyched to try something new. What I always remember was the gear! (Now a staple in the lacrosse world but not back then!). I got my box helmet, a pair of shorts that could have been confused for a speedo, a jersey that was 2 sizes too big and felt like sandpaper on my skin. I also got my first stick, the STK excalibur, what a gem that thing was. I was so new to the sport I think I played my first year without a pocket. My mom and dad were from queens and brooklyn originally so what did they know about lacrosse sticks and my coach was a local firefighter who had a son on the team and may or may not have played lacrosse before. We played games against the towns surrounding us and I am almost certain it wasn’t the prettiest site for all our parents but man did we love it! We had a great group of friends and we continued to play throughout childhood every spring. Lacrosse was an innocent sport and so were we. Once lacrosse ended we were on to the next sport!
It wasn’t till high school, when I first heard of summer lacrosse. There was a league (Long Island guys, I am sure you still the have the T-shirt, as I sure do) 3 Village Lacrosse! Anybody who played high school lacrosse on Long Island in the 90’s knows and remembers this league. Town against town! This league was all about pride. Fights? Cheap Shots? Cursing matches between coaches? You name it, it was happening on those dirt fields.
This is where club lacrosse started! The pride factor of these summer games made some parents and coaches think. What if our players in our town stayed together longer and practiced more? We could start to catch up with the powerhouse programs on Long island such as, St. Anthony’s, Chaminade’s, Garden City and Ward Melville’s!
Essentially it all started out as an idea for the high school teams to get better and it slowly crept into the youth brackets. The 3rd grade inexperienced kid that I was, is almost out of luck in some of the competitive towns these days. 3, 4, 5 year olds are already learning skills that I don’t think I learned till 5th grade. For all the old timers that think they could compete in today’s lacrosse world, you are sorely mistaken. Club lacrosse has elevated game play to a level, never seen before. Now I am not saying, players from the past couldn’t play, but stick skills and IQ of these kids are off the charts!
A great example is how far college lacrosse has come. When I got to Siena College a Division 1 program, we had a player join the team, not even try out! The last time he had played lacrosse was as a junior on J.V. of his high school team and was cut from the Varsity program as a senior. We were in such dire need of bodies that he actually stayed on the team the whole year! Fast forward to today’s world, kids are doing prospect camps, year round training and trying out for four or five club teams to find the best fit for them to even have the opportunity to play at a school like Siena.
Do I miss the innocence of youth lacrosse and leagues like 3 Village? Of course I do, but for all the negativity that club lacrosse receives, the one thing that you can not deny is the fact that club lacrosse has elevated lacrosse game play to a level that many of us did not know was even capable. Any true lacrosse fan would appreciate the level of game play across the board and we have to thank Club Lacrosse for raising the bar of our sport.