Growing the Game
Welcome back to our latest addition of The Quill, where we talk about all things lacrosse and aim to create content to enhance the lacrosse community. We haven’t posted a new edition in a while as we embarked on a community outreach campaign. We believe every beginning is an opportunity to do something great. A common saying in the lacrosse community is “Grow the Game”. We think the best way to “Grow the Game” is to get young people exposure to the sport and help create opportunities for them to find a beginning. The past three weeks the Founding Fathers Lax team went to elementary schools in the Portland, OR area to teach Physical Education classes the game of lacrosse. It was an incredibly rewarding experience and one we will continue to pursue in the future as there is no better way to “Grow the Game”.
Oregon is home to many great lacrosse players, some of whom include a Tewaaraton award winner; Peter Baum, Henry Schoonmaker a four-year player at Syracuse and many more. Between 2009-2015 no other state in America saw as much growth in popularity as Oregon did. However, there is still room to expand Lacrosse’s reach in the state. Through US Lacrosse and their Soft-Stick Program, P.E. classes can apply for 30 sticks and lacrosse balls, at no cost, that can then be utilized to teach and play a modified version of Lacrosse. In the modified version, the goal is to teach the basics: cradling, scooping, passing, catching and shooting. To cover all these topics, we chose to split them into separate days and classes that would build off each one. The classes were a huge success, and great strides in the short time were evident. The teachers even participated and helped spread the word to other local schools to adopt the program as well. That was an awesome result and the best outcome we could have hoped for!
Part of the success of the curriculum is to ensure the drills and teaching is fun. If kids don’t enjoy their break from their normal classes they certainly wont feel inclined to try and play in the spring. We found a key part in making it fun was teaching them just enough of the technical aspects and immediately going into some activity that was competitive. A perfect example of this is the first day where scooping is a focus. After some group ground ball practice, we split the class into two teams and played the Lacrosse version of Hungry Hungry Hippos. The teams lined up on opposite ends of the gym and all the balls were placed in the center. On the whistle their objective was simple, scoop and return more balls than the other team to your bucket. This was a fan favorite! Running, scooping, competition and playing lacrosse was a positive and fun experience. This was a great building block to start with.
While we wanted everyone to have fun and enjoy learning about the beautiful game, if kids liked it enough to be interested playing in the local youth league, we needed them to be prepared to know how to sign up. Again, to create more beginnings and “Grow the Game”, it’s important to have kids get exposure and know where they can continue to play outside of school. To serve as a reminder of where they could play, we provided the kids custom wristbands in different colors with the local youth league’s website. The goal being that they remember where to go for more information and how to sign up.
Before the season kicks off, we plan to go back to the same schools (and hopefully more!) to re-visit the skills we learned and to put Lacrosse at the forefront of their minds. As we complete the sessions at schools, we are providing the teachers with the curriculum and resources so that they can incorporate the program as a normal part of their classes. If we can create a culture where lacrosse is practiced and talked about on a regular basis, growing the game becomes second nature. Our next step in creating a local community lacrosse culture is to setup a professional development day for teachers in the Portland area where we cover the drills and techniques. These days will be designed to empower the teachers to incorporate Lacrosse as a yearly circuit. During the training we will also help them fill out the proper forms to get their own set of equipment for their classes. If you want to do something similar in your area or know of a school who would love to participate in the Soft-Stick program, visit US Lacrosse here. If you want Founding Fathers to come to your area and help implement this program, contact us and we’d be happy to talk more!