PASCO, Wash. – Along the sidelines at Moore Mansion field in late February a group of parents eagerly gathered to watch coaches and high school athletes carefully guide their sons and daughters through the basics.
Like on the field, the sideline group of new lacrosse moms and dads had plenty to learn.
After all, these were sticks – known as the “crosse”, and when throwing and catching the hard rubber ball – about the size of a baseball, there was proper technique of “cradling” that helped maintain possession.
All “lacrosse speak” that volunteer Amy Donaldson, a seasoned-veteran of the sport, was more than eager to share with the group of curious parents.
“Lacrosse teaches you to trust your teammates,” explained Donaldson, a native of Maryland where lacrosse is as much a ritual of spring as little league baseball and planning a summer vacation, who shared the many benefits, like exercise and team play, to all who would lend an ear.
Joking that they had better watch out because, “Once a child gets a stick in his hand, he won’t put it down,” Donaldson dove deeper into the rich history of lacrosse, its Native American roots and why this fast-moving, character-rich sport has become the fastest growing in Washington state. And the NCAA.
With local kids quickly grasping lacrosse, which moves up and down the field like soccer but with scoring like basketball, the clinic was a hit.
Success that club president Annie Ackerman-Brown credits to parent volunteers that know the game and the some 20 Richland and Southridge High School student-athletes that volunteered their time to teach the game they love to new youngsters now some 50 strong.
Although lacrosse, which has been played at the youth and high school levels in Washington state since 1979, has been actively played in Richland and Kennewick for a number of years, it has not quite made it across the river into Pasco, one of the three communities straddling the Columbia River in central Washington.
“It’s great to have these new players looking up to you,” said 17-year-old Rhenton Brimberry a junior lacrosse player with the Southridge High School club, which will be playing in its first season this spring after splitting-off from last year’s combined Richland-Southridge High School team.
“It’s fun to watch them progress through the skills,” he said.
Among those learning at the clinic was McLaughlin Middle School 6th grader Ryder Woodward, whose father Chandler brought him the Moore Mansion fields to “explore a new sport” after not finding the right fit with other spring-sport options.
Both hope that lacrosse will be that game.
For Sean Isakson whose 10-year-old son Rylin picked up a stick for the first time, the clinic was about bonding with his son over a newly found sport.
“It is exciting to be able to learn a new sport right alongside my son,” said Isakson, whose son attends Canyon View Elementary School in Kennewick. “I wish this sport was around when I was growing up.”
Kennewick parent Kristi Martin agreed, whose sons Tony, a 6th grader at Desert Hills Middle School, along with Tyler and Zach, both 3rd graders at Cottonwood Elementary School took the lacrosse field for the first time.
“It was great to see the kids engaged in something new and exciting. I loved seeing them always moving,” she said.
But not all participants were eager to take the field — at first.
For 12-year-old Vylett Young, there were a few questions. And like a lot of 12-year-olds, she was worried that she wouldn’t like the new activity.
That is until she found a classmate from Pasco’s McLaughlin Middle School already on the field.
“I’m ready to give it a try,” she said after a day of bonding with friends and learning the new game.
With enthusiasm on the field and help from PE teachers at McLaughlin and Stevens Middle Schools in Pasco and Pasco Parks and Recreation, which is in the early stages of planning a summer lacrosse clinic for Pasco youth, the sport is turning a new spring chapter for young athletes in the Tri Cities.
And possibly for some, opening new doors to participate in a sport at the high school level and perhaps beyond.
To learn more about the Tri Cities Youth Lacrosse Club visit: Tri Cities Youth Lacrosse
About Lacrosse in Washington State
Lacrosse has over 100 years of history in Washington state with clubs playing in the early 1900s and high schools now in their fourth decade of state competition. With Native American origins, lacrosse is one of the oldest organized sports on the continent and today is considered the fastest growing sport in America. In Washington state, some 4,000 student-athletes attending over 200 high schools play prep lacrosse, while another 6,000 play lacrosse at the youth, adult and collegiate club levels throughout the state. For more information on high school lacrosse in Washington state visit http://www.WashingtonHSLAX.com.
~ Patricia Haggard has recently settled in the Tri-Cities of Washington after living the nomad Navy life for 20 years with her husband and four kids. She started writing about her parenting experiences and got caught in lacrosse fever when her son began playing five years ago. She spends her time dyeing lacrosse heads, searching for lost mouth guards, and driving the lacrosse carpool.