Lacrosse convention to provide support
Anyone that attends the annual Park City Ski Town Shootout youth lacrosse tournament each year can plainly see. Youth lacrosse is growing fast.
According to the Utah Lacrosse Association (ULA), the sport is growing at over a 15-percent rate annually in the state. Park City seems to be leading that charge with a thriving development program and successful high school club teams.
To nurture that growth and enhance existing programs, the ULA has decided to hold a convention on Saturday, Nov. 10 at Westminster College for coaches, officials and team administrators. Paul Larkin, executive director of the ULA, said that the idea to hold such an event came after a series of planning sessions showed that there was a need and desire to give more support to clubs and officials around the state. Previously, they had held separate coaching and official’s clinics, but never one all-inclusive session. Larkin is excited to bring all parties together in a friendly, neutral format.
"It’s an opportunity for coaches to mesh when they are not on opposing sides," Larkin said. "It’s a chance to exchange ideas that might not otherwise be expressed."
The highlight of the conference will come on Saturday morning with a keynote address by Tina Syer, associate director of Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA), a non-profit committed to ensuring that youth sports create a positive, character-building experience. U.S. Lacrosse and PCA have an organizational partnership that allowed Syer to make the trip.
"Syer will help further expose and give coaches more options to keep more positive," Larkin said.
Syer will also lead some clinics on sportsmanship and developing positive team attitudes.
As a Native American sport, lacrosse is unique in its commitment to respect and honor for the traditions of the game. Larkin hopes that a day entirely devoted to furthering those values will make a big difference in the sport within the state. They already have "Honor the Game" sewn onto the bottom of all the youth jerseys, and Larkin hopes that this event will help to drive those values home.
The convention will feature various tracks for brand new and existing teams, as well as coaches, officials and team administrators. Larkin says that the different sessions will help the attendees find ways to improve and take their teams to the next level. He has invited a number of qualified instructors to leads the individuals clinics. Bryan Perry, head coach at Colorado state high school champion Cherry Creek High School will lead officiating classes. Soni Taylor Bartlett, head coach of the Jordan High School girl’s squad, Crista Samaras, a U.S. Lacrosse team member, and Kate Soulier, an All-American player at Duke University will join together to lead girls coaching sessions.
"We like to bring people from out of state with a different perspective, who have a successful team in the past," Larkin said of the out-of-town guests.
Larkin was also very committed to opening the event to team administrators, who he feels are the most important component in starting and maintaining successful clubs.
"This is specifically for all involved with youth," Larkin said.
The convention follows a Level 1 certification class that will be offered on Nov. 10 and 11. Anyone who attends the certification will receive the morning off to attend Syer’s address before returning to the class. Larkin says that eventually the ULA will offer certification up to Level 3.
To register for the coaching certification or convention, log onto http://www.utahlax.org . The cost of the convention is $30 or $65 for the certification class and the convention. Westminster College is located at 1840 South 1300 East in Salt Lake.
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