Lacrosse won’t be on the Olympic fields in London this summer, but the 300-plus kids who come to Carroll Park don’t care. As far as they’re concerned, their sport is already a winner.
The Charm City Youth Lacrosse League, a free co-ed sports program that teaches athletic skills and features competitive games, meets every Saturday in Carroll Park. It draws children ages 5-11 from across the city. They hit the fields for two and a half hours.
And as it nears the end of this season, it can celebrate record attendance, and put the word out that the program is expanding.
“So far, we’ve just done the spring season,” says Jody Martin, executive director, “but we’re looking into adding some more options for kids in the future.”
A one-day ‘fall ball’ clinic and perhaps a summer skills camp are under consideration.
According to Martin, the league, which has been in existence since its founding by Attorney General Douglas Gansler in 2009, is a way of teaching lacrosse in an area where not many programs are offered. It also offers a few lessons participants won’t find in a playbook — and might not be taught at home.
“Sports teach so many things,” says Martin. “You have to listen, you have to practice, you have to respect your teammates and your opponents. There really are so many lessons.”
After each weekend’s games, children in the program are able to hear a speaker who discusses life lessons: making smart decisions, helping out at home, making good choices and so forth.
The league uses coaches and assistants that include high school players who donate their time to teach children playing skills and act as mentors. It has hosted a college team, and is working to schedule an event with pro players.
At the moment, the league is predominantly male, with over 250 boys, but Martin hopes to build upon the girls’ program.
“We’re seeing interest from the sisters of a lot of our players,” he notes.
Players are able to use new equipment in the league, and at the end of the season, each is able to take home a stick for practice purposes.
The program will run until mid-May, according to Martin. Those interested in learning more about it, or about signing up (or signing up their children) can go to the program’s website at www.charmcityyouthlax.com
by Mary Helen Sprecher