The Joys of Coaching Youth Lacrosse

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I didn’t grow up playing lacrosse (“lax” to most bros), but I was exposed to it earlier than many of my Santa Barbara, California friends. My older brothers played lacrosse at boarding school and they gave me my first stick when I was ten or eleven, but things didn’t really get started for me in lacrosse until my freshmen year at Thacher. I practiced every day. I watched videos, I made videos. It’s all I wanted to do. I had four successful years playing lacrosse which led me to St. Lawrence University, where I made the difficult choice of drinking beers rather than running sprints. I had fallen in love with the sport of lacrosse and even though I was still infatuated with the game, it just wasn’t meant to be for me.

One year out of college, while I was studying for the LSATs, I was contacted by Otis Bradley about assisting him in starting the Ojai Youth Lacrosse program. Naturally, I accepted. I had helped out here-and-there with the Thacher Lacrosse team since my graduation, but this was a different opportunity. This was coaching kids who were still in the early development phases of athleticism and sport preference. I knew I wasn’t going to successfully play lacrosse in college because, unlike my East Coast brethren, I wasn’t handed my first lacrosse stick at six years old and it wasn’t an offseason substitute for hockey. This was my opportunity to get kids started early, and who knows, maybe one might play lacrosse in college.

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Last year was my first year officially assistant coaching a lacrosse team. It was the San Francisco Riptide Boys U11A team, with my friend Damon White (entirely different story!) and Braden Edwards as the other coaches. It was a fantastic learning season, dealing with the trials and tribulations of navigating the game of lacrosse at the tender age of ten. There were blood, sweat, tears, highs, lows, tears, penalties and upsets… did I mention lots of tears? The kids played their hearts out to become the first Riptide U11 team to ever make the playoffs. Ultimately, a much larger program prevailed over the Riptide, but the season was, in my opinion, still a successful one. Behind the agony of defeat, I saw the spark of passion light up in a few sets of eyes.

With a new season comes new responsibilities. After minor negotiations (no big deal), I was promoted to the Head Coach of the Riptide U11B team. This is the next step for me to continue to cultivate an early interest in lacrosse while reinforcing strong mechanics at an early age. Sure, this isn’t going to be a walk in the park, but nothing worth fighting for is. There will be sword fighting, crying, complaining and upset parents, but I’ll be damned if these kids don’t learn a thing or two this season! My goal is to move the top 10% of the team to U-13A, 40% of the team to U11A, and keeping 50% of the team to prepare them for promotion next season.

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It turns out University High School was also looking for an assistant coach for their Men’s Varsity Lacrosse team. They were looking to hire an assistant coach that could support the head coach as well as break off to coach the less advanced players. It sounded like the perfect opportunity for me to inspire a love for the sport in a high school kid new to the game. A kid just like me. So I’m trying to emulate the high school lacrosse coaches that inspired me: Robinson, Manson, Crawford, Rexford. These men inspired in me not only a love of the game and a commitment to hard work, but the value in being a good competitor, win, lose, or draw.

This season I am lucky enough to coach two teams at entirely different levels. It’s gonna be a blast! Practices have just started and games begin in March. Don’t worry, you know I’ll keep you posted on how we’re doing.

CHE

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