The growth of youth lacrosse in Montana over the past few years really has been astounding. More than a thousand new players have been introduced to the sport in a short amount of time and the game is being played in new places almost every day here. Since I first got involved with youth lacrosse, my focus has mainly been at the high school level, which is where I feel the game is really poised to take off in Montana. Lacrosse is a good fit for Montanans – the river rules the summer, football and hunting rule the fall, skiing in the winter, but the spring is wide open. It’s action-packed entertainment when there’s really nothing else to watch (cough, baseball, cough).
I’m a big map guy and spend hours looking at the map of Montana. It’s huge. In Montana it is totally normal to have a sporting event that is a 10 hour round trip car ride… I grew up outside Chicago and we had about a billion high schools within an hour of my house, so it took me a while to have this sink in. I used to look at the map here and think that getting lacrosse going would be impossible in some of these towns… now I look at the map and I think, well if football can do it…
I see lacrosse fields everywhere.
So this year I’m going to see how many new ones I can play on.
Right now there are currently four Class AA Schools (the largest schools in the state) that have club lacrosse teams – Bozeman, Missoula Big Sky, Missoula Hellgate, and Missoula Sentinel. What I’d like to see happen is for that number to skyrocket in the next few years… so here’s what I’m going to do about it…
By the end of 2013 I’m going to help arrange or host clinics at 50 high schools across Montana. I’ll bring whatever I can, teach whoever shows up, and hopefully leave one or two people at each stop with enough inspiration to believe that they can start their own team. And then we’ll see how many times it works.
Here are the schools that I plan on targeting this year (note 57 are listed, still trying to work out a route…):
CLASS AA TARGET SCHOOLS (10): Billings Senior, Billings Skyview, Billings West, Butte, Flathead, Glacier, Great Falls, Great Falls CMR, Helena, Helena Capital
CLASS A TARGET SCHOOLS (22): Anaconda, Beaverhead County, Belgrade, Billings Central, Browning, Butte Central, Columbia Falls, Corvallis, Custer County, Dawson County, Fergus, Frenchtown, Hamilton, Hardin, Havre, Laurel, Libby, Park, Polson, Sidney, Stevensville, Whitefish
CLASS B TARGET SCHOOLS (25): Arlee, Bigfork, Columbus, Cut Bank, Darby, Ennis, Fairfield, Florence-Carlton, Lame Deer, Loyola Sacred Heart, Malta, Manhattan, Plains, Plentywood, Red Lodge, Ronan, St Ignatius, Seeley-Swan, Shepherd, Superior, Thompson Falls, Three Forks, Valley Christian, Whitehall, Wolf Point
Some of these schools already have kids playing lacrosse, but some would be brand new to the sport.
I estimate it will take around 6,000 miles of driving, spread out over probably 6 trips. I will need about a hundred cups of coffee and at few oil changes, but I already can pack a “clinic in the truck” and “the pitch” is already a regular routine for me. “Hi, I’m Kevin, I’m here to Grow the Game. Here’s everything you need…”
My goal is to have every Class AA School field a men’s and women’s high school team by 2015. It’s going to take a lot of follow up work, but if the seed can get planted this year I think there is a good shot to make this happen. Also by 2015, I’m hoping to see lacrosse being played at maybe 5 or 6 Class A Schools and 5 or 6 Class B Schools.
In order to accomplish these goals, I will be assembling a team of game growers from across the state to help out. I will also be enlisting support from the larger lacrosse community (more on that soon!!!) so we can really push this experiment to the brink this year. Some of the biggest names in the game will be coming out to visit, we’ll have awesome giveaways and prizes, but most importantly we are going to bring the infrastructure necessary to get started directly to these new players and parents.
I challenge anyone out there reading to see what ingredients you can throw into the mix… a lot of little contributions can make a big difference.
Stay tuned for much more!