The parents are as excited as the players, which is a reason Beach Cities Youth Lacrosse organizers say they have been able to grow the organization’s numbers so much.
“My son Connor started playing when he was a seventh grader,” said Karen Sprague, who is a volunteer for the organization. “Any family who gets involved becomes immediately passionate about the sport and passionate to grow the sport in this community.”
Beach Cities Youth Lacrosse was started in 2005. It has teams for boys grades 2-4, boys grades 4-5, boys grades 7-8 and girls grades 7-8. There is a high school-aged team called the Beach Tribe.
“We put notices out in the schools and tried to grow it through friends of friends and word of mouth,” founder Glenn Styron said. “We had 10 or 15 kids come out for all the ages from third to eighth grade, predominantly, in the first few years. After that, it started to grow a bit more.”
Styron said his early interest came from his experience with the sport when he was younger.
“I grew up in Long Island in New York where I played as a child growing up,” he said. “And a lot of the other dads that helped form the foundation were from some other place where they were able to get that exposure.”
Beach Cities Youth Lacrosse’s roster has children from Long Beach, Lakewood, Seal Beach, Cerritos, Cypress and Los Alamitos. It started with about 30 to 60 athletes in the early years, but has since grown to about 150 this year, organizers said.
The basic concept of lacrosse is that two teams face one another trying to score by using a stick with netting at the end to shoot a ball into a goal.
“The fact that it’s a fast sport (makes it appealing) — they coined it a long time ago as the fastest game on two feet,” Styron said. “It combines a lot of the team play you’d have with basketball — or the game flow of something like soccer. Once you start passing the ball around, it really gets moving. The team that wins is the group that is able to find that open person.”
Grades younger than high school compete in the Orange County Lacrosse League, which begins its season on Jan. 8. Safety precautions are being taken to ensure the health of all athletes.
“Our league rules have a progression for what’s allowed for contact,” Styron said. “The little kids are allowed very little. It has to be pretty well controlled. When there are injuries, it’s more similar to soccer — like sprained ankles or bumps and bruises.”
Styron said that all coaches in the organization were trained by U.S. Lacrosse — the national governing body of the sport.
The high school team, Beach Tribe, won’t begin its new season until February, and is still taking registrations.
“We always struggle to have a really full roster,” Styron said. “We’re striving to get a healthy team of 18 to 25 players for the high school team.”
With younger teams growing in size, organizers also are hopeful the high school numbers will increase over time, Sprague added, eventually giving incentive for at least one local high school to carry the sport.
“It’s exploded on the national level — high schools up and down California are adding it,” Styron said. “Our numbers are growing all the time. I think kids are attracted to it because they aren’t growing up with it — so when they see a high action sport like lacrosse, they see it as this next generation sport.”
In order to register and find out more information on the organization, visit the website www.bcylax.com.