SAM ODROWSKI The Standard
NORTH DURHAM: A little over 100 kids from Scugog, Uxbridge, and the surrounding area play lacrosse each season, but enrollment rates have been on the decline for years, with many kids leaving to play other sports.
Last year the Uxbridge Minor Lacrosse Association (UMLA) had about 130 athletes ranging from 3 years old to 15, but didn’t have high enough numbers to run a league for older age groups. This is an extreme drop in athletes when compared to the 530 kids who were enrolled back in 2010.
UMLA president, Tim Ellis told the Standard the decrease in numbers can be partially attributed to the Oshawa Minor Lacrosse League coming back into existence, with a large section of Port Perry being assigned to play in Oshawa, instead of Uxbridge.
Since losing many Port Perry athletes, the Lacrosse Association has allowed for Port Perry residents to play lacrosse in Uxbridge, but the numbers are still low.
According to Tim, there are other causes as well, such as the prominence of the Toronto Blue Jays.
“A successful sports team in Toronto kind of drives things,” he said. “The Blue Jays are winning a lot, so that exposure for the kids is drawing them to baseball.”
In addition, Tim told the Standard that another driving cause of the decreased enrollment is the physical nature of playing Lacrosse.
He said, “When you talk to parents about lacrosse, one of the things that usually come to mind is that it’s a rough sport, involving cross-checking, so a lot of parents shy away from putting their kids into a sport that allows that.”
To combat this, the UMLA has taken cross-checking out of the house league games but have kept it available in the rep league, for parents who want their kids to play competitively.
Alicia Cowan is a lacrosse parent and enrolled her six-year-old son is in the rep program last year.
She said, “With the rep there is some contact but the coaches are really good at teaching them the proper way of doing different moves,”
Alicia added, “We felt that he was very safe.”
For parents who are a little more hesitant, the house league option is always available.
Tim said, “We have taken cross checking out of house league, so this gives kids the opportunity to learn the core skills of lacrosse, which are passing, throwing, and scooping the ball.”
To help children learn these essential skills, the ULMA brings in Next Level, a training program that is run by lacrosse athletes.
Tim said, “Instead of having Dads who never played the game trying to teach skills, we have a set of people who have either just graduated from division one or division two in the United States, that have played the game. They are better with the kids and able to deliver a program they know, understand, and grew up with.”
Alicia told the Standard that Next Level has been helpful in developing her child’s skills and lacrosse has become her son’s favourite sport.
She said, “Next Level was great, and we are really glad to hear they are coming back to do development with the kids, and we are really excited about the season.”
Alicia would recommend lacrosse to any parent who wants their kids staying active in the spring.
She said, “Take a chance with having your kid try something new, if you want them to be active and continue a sporting activity in the spring and summer months, it is a great local sport, and something that the kids really enjoy.”
The lacrosse season starts on April 16th, and parents who are interested in enrolling their children can register now, at www.Uxbridgelacrosse.com.
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