By BEN MCCARTY
News staff writer
August 19, 2006
If you give a kid a grassy field, he will ask for a ball to play with.
If you give a kid a ball, he will ask for a stick to hit it with.
If you give a kid a stick, he will ask for pads to protect himself from other kids’ sticks.
If you give a kid pads, he will ask for a helmet to protect his head.
If you give a kid all those things, he will probably clobber another kid with his stick.
If a kid is clobbering other kids with a stick in a controlled environment while slinging a ball around, he is probably playing lacrosse.
Hood River Youth Lacrosse, a nonprofit group dedicating to growing lacrosse at the youth level, just finished up its first organized youth lacrosse camp for elementary and middle school boys.
“The sport is growing so fast that the first year we had maybe 15 (fourth through sixth grade) kids come out for lacrosse,” elementary coach Tom Dalby said. “Now we have over 30.”
After being a mainstream sport on the east coast for years, lacrosse has begun to take off in Oregon. Hood River Youth Lacrosse is emulating what several Portland area Lacrosse programs have done in recent years in establishing youth feeder programs so that children can learn the game at an early age, first through third grade, and then develop their skills through elementary and middle school so that they will be prepared for a high school program.
“We just started integrating the whole program, elementary through high school, so that the kids have a common base of training,” middle school coach Peter Nance said. “It seems to be working really well.”
The players at the camp ranged from a few total newcomers to the sport to experienced middle school players, and the coaches hoped that they would all be able to take something away from the camp.
“We just cover a little bit of everything from basics on up,” high school coach Mac Jackson said.
Over three days the coaches worked on the players on developing offensive and defensive strategies, taught them proper technique, and forced them to learn to shoot with their weaker hand. At the end of the three days the campers were rewarded with an opportunity to scrimmage against the coaches.
At lunch before the scrimmage a trash-talking session between the coaches and players ensued.
“After we get done I want to ask you something,” camper Jacob Sprague told Dalby. “How does dirt taste?”
Dalby fired right back, “I’ve got four words four you guys: 80-miles-per-hour,” he said, referring to the speed of his shot.
“Well, I’ve got two words for you,” another camper fired back. “Laid out.”
Facing the prospect of being trampled by a large group of young boys with stick, Dalby’s response was that of any reasonable person.
“If anyone comes near me I’m just going to run away,” he said.