What started last spring with a child's passion for a unique new sport suddenly turned into a mom's desire to give her son the opportunity to wear his school's jersey while playing the game he loved. Four months later, thousands of dollars worth of donated lacrosse equipment was scheduled to arrive at Chaminade Julienne High School’s doorstep and the birth of two teams for both boys and girls living in the Greater Dayton area was complete—but that’s only the beginning.
Although it may seem like a fairytale, bringing one of the fastest growing team sports in the United States to CJ was no easy task for parent and alumna Mary Reis, ’77. Her son Ben, a freshman, recently began playing for the Dayton Lacrosse Club; one of just a handful of options for lacrosse players living in the northern areas of the Miami Valley.
Reis decided it was time to make the sport more accessible to CJ students and area youth, so, with the blessing of the school's administration, she applied for the 2010 US Lacrosse Equipment Grant. According to Meghan Mulford, sport development associate with US Lacrosse (USL), the grants are awarded annually to selected teams within their first year of operation based on demonstrated financial need with preference given to those located in a developing lacrosse area. In 2010, 100 lacrosse organizations in 31 states received various USL grants; however, only 27 received the full program grant which provides the necessary gear to field two teams.
“I found there was an equipment grant available through US Lacrosse, which is the national umbrella organization for all lacrosse, and it provided complete equipment for men’s and women’s teams, so we applied and we won,” Reis said.
Lacrosse is one of the oldest North American games and originates from variations of stickball played by Native American tribes to settle disputes and prepare for war, among other things. Today, considered “the fastest sport on two feet,” lacrosse combines aspects of other sports including soccer, basketball, and hockey, and is played both indoors and outdoors.
“The fundamental concepts of men’s and women’s lacrosse are the same—players try to score goals by using a stick, which features a plastic or wooden head with netting at the end, to shoot a ball into the goal,” according to uslacrosse.org. “There are various rules differences between men’s and women’s lacrosse, and men’s lacrosse, which allows body contact, utilizes more protective equipment.”
For the Eagles boys’ team, the grant includes 20 field player sticks and full protective equipment for 20 players, consisting of gloves, arm guards, shoulder pads and helmets. The girls’ team received 20 field player sticks and 20 eye masks. Each team gets one full set of goalie pads and one goalie stick.
“It is traditionally a pretty expensive sport to play so this takes out the equipment cost for the kids,” Reis said. To purchase all the necessary equipment, a male player can typically expect to spend upwards of $300, with equipment for a female costing around $150 she added.
“This is opening up a spring sports club to an awful lot of kids that aren’t playing a spring sport,” Reis commented. In addition to the roughly 90 CJ students who attended an informational meeting in May 2010, Eagles lacrosse will be open to any high school student whose school does not already offer the sport due the program’s "club" designation.
The teams will begin play in March, and lacrosse has a chance to become one of the few outdoor sports to ever operate entirely on campus with the utilization of Blue Green Field for both practice and home games a possibility. Training began during the winter on the turf of the new Student Conditioning Center and, in preparation for the 2011 season, Reis has arranged for each team to work out with members of UD’s men’s and women’s lacrosse teams. The Eagles lacrosse club will compete in the Ohio High School Lacrosse Association’s Southwest Club division, which includes teams from high schools such as Springboro, Lebanon, and Alter.
In conjunction with the Miami Valley School, CJ will also host a two-day faceoff clinic featuring Major League Lacrosse player Chris Eck in the Student Conditioning Center for players of all ages. The clinic is just one of many activities Reis hopes will get the community involved with, and introduced to, lacrosse.
“We do have plans this summer to have a lacrosse youth camp as part of the CJ youth camp program, and that is the great thing about this equipment grant,” she said. “Kids can come to our camp, use our equipment, and not have to put out $300-500 just to see if they like the sport.
“My goal is that when people think Dayton; Catholic education; and lacrosse, they think CJ.”