Last spring during the time our registrations were rolling in for the Missoula Elite Lacrosse youth programs, I came across an interesting registration. It was for an 8-year old boy looking to play for our brand-new U9 team. The interesting part was that he was from Helena, which is 115 miles away from Missoula. I called his mom, Amber, to talk about this… she told me that her son loved hockey and that he really wanted to play lacrosse. She was willing to drive him over for practices and games, and so I said we’d love to have him.
Amber and Ethan drove a lot of miles to play lacrosse last spring, so this summer we started to talk about getting a program started in Helena. On October 28th I traveled over to Helena with some of my high school players to host a clinic and to help get the program off the ground. We tried to get the word out, but didn’t know who was going to show up. By the time we got things going, there were 20 new players out on the field – and even more impressive/important was that there were several adults there who knew the sport and were interested in coaching. After a few hours of drills, I set up the players I brought in a controlled scrimmage with the new players and I gathered all the parents who were there for a quick meeting. I talked briefly about what we were doing, what the Montana Lacrosse Association is all about, and about how they can start their own program in Helena. I told them that the first step to getting this going would be for someone to step up and take on some jobs (scheduling, ordering uniforms, setting up a website, etc), so I asked if anyone would be willing to be the Board President… no response… it was quiet for a few seconds, until a couple parents looked over at Amber, who had probably persuaded them to attend in the first place, and so she raised her hand and stepped up to the plate. We then called for a VP, Secretary, and Treasurer to step up and then… Boom, Helena Lacrosse was established.
Since then Amber and her crew have been wading into uncharted waters, unsure and excited about what their first season of lacrosse will bring… I checked in with Amber this morning to see how things are going.
What’s new with Helena Lacrosse since you were established back in the fall?
Right now we are taking registrations and getting ready to start the season. We’re hoping on starting practices in the beginning of March, assuming the weather holds up for us. The kids, at least on the Facebook page, seem super excited about getting going, so that’s good. We’ve had a lot of new interest, people coming out of the wood work, being interested in wanting to play or wanting their kids to play. We have 4 coaches who are planning on going to the Coaches Certification class in Billings. Robbie is working on our website too.
How are the numbers looking and how many teams do you think Helena Lacrosse will field in Year One?
Right now our numbers look like we’re going to have a U11 Boys team, a High School Boys team, for sure, and it’s looking like there will be a Girls team that will be for all ages. We do have several of the U15 age, so I’m not sure how we’ll fit that into the age group but we’ll find a way to have them be able to play.
Are you happy so far with your Board participation? Are you all set for coaches? Have you found any officials?
We are set for coaches but we have not found any officials, yet. I did just send out some information about that today. We have a bunch of parents that have said “whatever you need” and so that’s really good. Our board is doing great, we even have 2 or 3 parents who don’t even hold positions on the board but come to all the meetings, so we get a little extra participation with that. Chris Romano has just been amazing, he is on it, he says “lets do this, then lets do this” and then we work to get it done.
About how many hours a week are you working on lacrosse now? Did you have any idea what you were signing up for back in the fall?
Hahaha, well I would say that, depending on what I’m working on, I’m putting in around 10 hours per week on all this, for sure. But as far as keeping in touch with all the parents, learning all the information, finding new information, working with the board, and stuff like that, um… fortunately I do a lot of volunteering so I sort of knew about the amount of work that goes into it, but of course being new to the sport we didn’t really know what we were getting into anyways. Then to put all of it together, it’s a lot.
What are the Helena Lacrosse goals for Year One? How about Year Two?
Year One I am just working on getting organized and together and having it set for moving forward. Getting people comfortable with the program and how it runs, figuring out how we’re going to run it, then getting people excited about it to share it.
So, I think you are a pretty cool lax mom… I mean you started a whole lacrosse program so your kid could play… do you have any advice for other lax moms out there on the Frontier?
If you want it you just got to get it, I mean nobody is going to do it for you. I was excited to find, when I did start it, how many other people were interested in the same thing, just never reached out and took it.
Thank you Amber for sharing your story with us! If you want to know more about the Helena Lacrosse Club you can check them out on Facebook, and stay tuned for their new website!