Skip to main content
Resources for:

USA Lacrosse
| May 19, 2022

Lacrosse in a Football State: How USA Lacrosse Opens the Game to Children

By J. Justin Boggs

The following article appeared in the Southwest version of the April print edition of USA Lacrosse Magazine. Help fuel the future of the sport and have the magazine delivered right to your mailbox by becoming a USA Lacrosse member today.

Coaches in Texas say a USA Lacrosse grant program that provides schools with grants for equipment has opened the game to children.

The sport in Texas has experienced its growing pains. Lacrosse remains unsanctioned by the state’s high school sports association. Lacrosse is also not offered at the varsity level by any of the state’s NCAA Division I universities. The COVID-19 pandemic also has made it challenging to recruit new children to the game.

Despite it all, advocates for the game say the sport is growing.

The Round Rock Independent School District has benefited from a USA Lacrosse Physical Education Grant that provides equipment (soft sticks and balls) and training (nationally standardized curriculum and clinic) for PE teachers.

While having equipment on hand helped open the game for thousands of children, the know-how of enthusiasts of the sport made it possible for schools to open their doors to lacrosse.

Jim Stanley is a youth lacrosse coach in the Round Rock area. Stanley is among a contingent of local coaches who are helping to promote lacrosse to children in the district. It has been part of Stanley’s mission since his retirement.

Stanley has participated in outreach efforts in the Round Rock district for nearly five years. Part of his goal is to help train physical education teachers on how to provide basic instruction to students.

Joining in his effort is Johanna Owens, youth director at Town and Country Girls Youth Lacrosse. She said in more than two decades, she has watched the number of high school girls’ lacrosse programs in the Austin area grow from one to 14. While growth of the sport has been methodical, there are still large sections of the region unfamiliar with the game.

“It’s increasing in numbers and interest,” Owens said. “What would really help is if the state would sanction the sport.”

Owens noted that many teachers were completely unfamiliar with lacrosse. USA Lacrosse supports local coaches who run drills and games with teachers like it is a PE class during a day of professional development.

“They know basketball, they know football,” Owens said. “One day of professional development is not the most sufficient, but it takes the pink elephant of what is the sport and it gives them the confidence.”

One obstacle Stanley ran into was with so many other sport options was that many educators did not have the time or resources to teach the full USA Lacrosse curriculum.

Stanley condensed 14 lessons to four — scooping, catching, passing and a game — which made it more manageable for teachers while accomplishing the goal of introducing the sport to children. He also encourages students to learn to pass using yarn balls for added safety.

“The grant is huge because the big barrier is they have to pay money for a sport that they’re not as familiar with and that’s not as well known,” Stanley said. “So if they have to go out and buy equipment, that is a barrier. Having the resources from the USA Lacrosse grant is huge for us.”

While high school football remains king in Texas, Stanley said lacrosse helps football players become better all-around athletes.

“It especially helps linebackers and safeties with their reaction and speed,” he said. “Texas is very much a football state and it’s run by the athletic directors and a lot of football coaches don’t want their kids playing other sports, which is silly because it makes for a better athlete.”

Stanley said students are given stickers where they’re encouraged to join free clinics at Town and Country Sports in Round Rock if they enjoyed learning the basics while in school.

“It helps kids with an outlet and helps kids with exercise and helps their confidence,” Stanley said.

Owens said the Round Rock girls’ lacrosse programs saw a rise in participation until the pandemic. She hopes as the threat of COVID-19 subsides, more players will join the movement.

SOUTHWEST REGIONAL SPOTLIGHT

ARKANSAS

A women’s lacrosse officials organization is starting up to help support the growth of girls’ lacrosse in the Little Rock area.

LOUISIANA

Red River Lacrosse hosted a USA Lacrosse Pickup and Play clinic, part of National Celebrate Lacrosse Week in November. More than 25 kids were introduced to lacrosse in Shreveport.

MISSISSIPPI

Girls’ lacrosse is coming to Biloxi. Ocean Springs Girls Lacrosse is offering free clinics to introduce the game to interested athletes.  More info go to https://biloxi-girls-lacrosse.leaguemanagement.usalacrosse.com.

TEXAS

WCLA Nationals are back in 2022. Hosted by USA Lacrosse, the Women’s Collegiate Lacrosse Associates (WCLA) Division I and Division II National Championships showcase the nation’s premier non-varsity collegiate teams. The event features 16 Division I teams and 16 Division II teams competing over four days to crown their champions. After a two-year hiatus, the event returns May 4-7 in Round Rock.