Sept. 11, 2023 -- Heights lacrosse knows that in order to build an even stronger program, they have to start small … sometimes as small as 6-year-olds.
And that’s just what they’ve done with their summer camp program, which was expanded this year to include boys as well as girls and children as young as rising 1st graders and as old as those entering high school. The camp, which was organized by Cleveland Heights Youth Lacrosse, ran for one month on Tuesday and Thursday evenings on the playing fields at Canterbury Elementary School.
According to Andrea Briggs, who wears many hats as a coach, parent, district teacher, and Heights lacrosse alum, the 65 registered kids represented their highest enrollment ever. The camp started in the 1990s, shortly after lacrosse was first added as a varsity sport at Heights, to introduce the sport to more and more potential players. “We are always trying to recruit more players so we can field more teams,” said Ms. Briggs.
She is one of the coaches of the two Heights youth teams, available to girls in grades 3 and 4 and in grades 5 and 6. These teams, which both boasted winning records last year, participate in the spring in the Northeast Ohio Lacrosse League and are available to any girls who reside within the school district's boundaries, whether or not they attend Heights Schools. Cleveland Heights Youth Lacrosse is hoping to expand those offerings to field boys’ teams as well. This year was the first time they offered the camp to boys and the turnout was strong.
With protective equipment borrowed from the high school team, Ms. Briggs said “it was so cool for them to get to suit up in helmets and pads.”
The camp, designed to teach the basics of the game in a fun environment moving from introductory moves to real scrimmages, is coached by a combination of youth, middle and high school coaches as well as high school players. Karis Wilson, a veteran camper and
now a rising junior member of Heights Varsity Lacrosse team, admitted that it felt “weird to be on the coaching side. But I love lacrosse and it makes me excited to see how many people came out for this.”
Soon-to-be Fairfax 2nd grader Emerson thinks lacrosse is “fun. Lacrosse is my first favorite sport. Then baseball is my second favorite, soccer is my third favorite and rugby is my fourth favorite.” With few rugby offerings for elementary school students readily available, Heights lacrosse should feel pretty confident they’ve hooked a new player. Especially when the final evening of camp includes a pizza dinner and a lacrosse game … with water balloons instead of balls! As Emerson said, “I like how my friends are all having fun.”
More information about youth lacrosse programming in the district can be found at heightslacrosse.org