Young players polish lacrosse skills

Posted 4/26/10

The sport of lacrosse demands skills different from normal athletic activities like running and jumping, and this is the fourth season Englewood …

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Young players polish lacrosse skills


The sport of lacrosse demands skills different from normal athletic activities like running and jumping, and this is the fourth season Englewood Parks and Recreation Department provides the opportunity for young athletes to use those skills.

“Many sports rely on things we do naturally like throwing a ball or running,” said Dave Parks, program director. “While lacrosse involves running and stamina, it also requires its players to learn to catch and throw the ball from a net on the end of their stick and use that stick to pick up the ball off the ground while running full speed. Those skills come from practice and playing games.

“Four years ago, none of our players had ever picked up a lacrosse stick before,” he continued. “The coaches spent time teaching them to hold the stick and learn the technique called cradling they use when they run with the ball in the net. Now, at least half the kids on the team have been with us for a season or more so some of them are pretty good and we have them to help us teach the skills to the new kids.”

Englewood High School coach Mark Baker was at the game.

“I am glad to see young kids in Englewood playing lacrosse. This is where we have to start if we are to build a strong, competitive program at the high school,” he said. “Some of these kids are playing pretty good lacrosse. I plan to come and work with them as our season wraps up and I plan to coach a team in the summer recreation league to try to keep up the interest in lacrosse.”

While coach Todd Porter and the veterans work each season to help the new players with lacrosse techniques, other teams had been playing for a while so learning lacrosse techniques under fire during games isn’t easy, and there were three winless seasons. But, this year’s team of third- through eighth-graders is more skilled and showed their improvement as they accomplished a milestone by winning the first game in program history earlier this season.

On April 24, they came very close to doubling their number of victories before losing the hard-fought battle to Arvada, 3-2.

Pirates goalie Cody Baldridge helped his team’s effort by making a series of saves and, despite the fact he is probably the smallest player on the field, went out of the net to help teammates battle for a loose ball.

“I like this game and, when our old goalie quit our team, I felt I could step up and take that position,” the third-grader said. “It is a hard position to play well and it is a lot tougher than I thought it would be. You have to try to guess where the other guy is going to shoot the ball so you can get there to make the save. Sometimes you guess right and sometime you don’t”

He said he likes the game because it is fun and exciting.

“Making a good save or putting a good check on one of their guys really gets the blood pumping,” he said. “Most of the time it’s OK in the net but the hardest challenge is trying to block that shot in close when the ball is fired at the net like a bullet. That’s tough.”

The Pirates are in the South Suburban League with eight other teams. The teams are made up of elementary and middle school players and the games are four 12-minute periods with a running clock.

Englewood’s team is currently 1-3 with four games left on the schedule. Four-year veteran player Emily Hinger said this season is a lot more fun because the team is much more competitive.

“We didn’t know a lot about lacrosse when we got started and used to regularly get pounded,” she said. “I always enjoy lacrosse and playing as a team But now the games are more fun and a lot more exciting for us because we are a lot more competitive than we used to be. We do have one win so far and we want to win some more games this season.

The eighth-grader had the distinction of being the only girl on the team for most of her career but she said that hadn’t bothered her.

“I got interested in lacrosse four years ago when one of the pro players put on a demonstration at our school,” she said. “It looked like fun so I decided to give it a try.”

When she came out for the team for the first time, she said she watched a little then asked to play defense.

“I like lacrosse because it involves a lot of running and I like to run,” she said. “I like defense because it gets very physical near the goal so, on defense I get to hit and block more people. That’s a lot of fun too.”


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