Community LaX Program Shaping Youth
By Nate Wisneski - Kalihwisaks (email Nate)
A budding community supported lacrosse program has grown into one of the largest youth lacrosse groups in the area.
The Oneida Community Lacrosse Program started last summer when a fifth and sixth grade tournament was set up to allow youth a chance at gaining competition experience.
Oneida Nation High School varsity lacrosse coach Curt Summers assists the program.
“I’m a sidelines type of guy, helping out with whatever is needed and guide anyway I can,” said Summers.
Summers is proud of the cultural significance of lacrosse the kids are learning through the program. Lacrosse is indigenous to Native Americans.
“It’s nice getting them involved in something that they can directly connect with as far as their cultural background. It’s part of them learning their culture and identity,” he said.
U13 Coach Ernie Stevens III also feels the program is prepping kids so they know what the game means to the community.
“It’s part of our culture and understanding that brings pride. Playing this game is different than playing baseball, basketball, or football. That helps inspire them and we remind them of that message,” said Stevens. “It brings us back to our culture and roots. It’s inspiring and makes us feel good to watch these kids play this game, have fun, do well, and get better.”
Stevens also coaches life skills to the kids on his team.
“It’s one of the most important things they can do at this point in life. Getting disciplined and learning basic life principles you learn in sports,” he said.
Summers is excited about the growth of the program and its relationship to his varsity program.
“We probably doubled our numbers from last year. It’s a great starter program if they decide to play in high school. We have a vast array of kids coming from different school districts,” Summers said.
Both teams will play between 15-20 games this spring against Bay Valley Lacrosse Association, Madison Area Lacrosse Association, and Southeast Wisconsin Lacrosse Association.
The program’s goal is to create the most skilled, battle tested players that can hit the ground running when they enter high school while putting a strong emphasis on the sense of community. The coaches, officials, and staff are US Lacrosse certified or in the process of being certified.
The group is community supported so the program is operating on a shoestring budget. Jerseys are donated or borrowed, costs are offset by small player fees and fundraising. Volunteers coach, official, and support the program.
Donations are always accepted no matter the size. To help email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Kelly Swamp at (920) 412-1817.
“It’s called the medicine game and this community needs as much good vibes as we can get,” said Stevens. “I think this generation is going to bring a new era of lacrosse.”
Posted: May 1, 2014