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LAX in the house

By BOB GOSMAN

May 7, 2012

Marquette University will field menís and womenís lacrosse teams in the Big East Conference.


Lacrosse, one of the nationís fastest growing sports, has found a home throughout the Midwest, including Milwaukee. Itís been played predominantly on the East Coast, but itís gaining ground here through youth and high school programs. A major catalyst for raising lacrosseís profile in Milwaukee was Marquette Universityís recent decision to field varsity menís and womenís teams. Both teams will play a varsity schedule in 2013 and be full-fledged Big East Conference members the following year.

"Itís known as the fastest game on two feet," Marquette womenís coach Meredith Black says. "It features a lot of athleticism and skill. Itís a fun game to watch."

Sometimes referred to as ice hockey on grass, the object of this contact sport is to score goals by advancing the ball into the otherís teams goal, using the lacrosse stick to catch, carry and pass the ball. On defense, players are allowed to stick check and use body contact to prevent this from happening.

"I think itís a game that translates directly to other sports," Marquette University menís coach Joe Amplo says. "Thereís the transition and tactical strategies of basketball, the contact of football and the open space of soccer. Fans see these similarities, so itís an easy sport for fans to pick up and get excited about."

Right now, the rosters for both Marquette teams consist primarily of players from parts of the country where lacrosse has more history and tradition. As the sport becomes more popular in the Milwaukee area, look for more home-grown players to wear Golden Eagles uniforms.

"The athletes in this area are tremendous," Amplo says. "It will just take a little bit of time before the lacrosse ability catches up to the athleticism. Once it does, the sky is the limit."

To that end, Amplo and Black are aggressively reaching out to high school programs and youth coaches in the area. They see their programs as ambassadors of the game and will do everything they can to be a resource for lacrosse players and coaches. They will also offer lacrosse camps each summer.

"Iíve been sending hand-written letters and e-mails to all the athletics directors trying to raise awareness," Black says. "We want them to know weíre starting a program right around the corner from them."

Black also is planning on starting a club team for local players. "It will be a chance for kids who fall in love with the sport to take it to the next level."

Get started

ēThe Marquette University menís lacrosse team will host a free youth lacrosse clinic from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. April 27 at Valley Fields, 1818 W. Canal St., Milwaukee. All youth players are invited to participate. If you donít have equipment, it will be provided. You can register at: http://www.gomarquette.com/sports/m-lacros/spec-rel/021712aaa.html

ēMilwaukee Marquette, Brookfield, University School, Arrowhead, Kettle Moraine, Milwaukee Lakeshore, Waukesha and Wauwatosa are some of the area high schools that field lacrosse squads. Some of these teams are co-ops, where nearby schools combine to form one team.

ēThe Milwaukee Area Youth Lacrosse Association is a one-stop shop for lacrosse participation and questions. MAYLA is a nonprofit focused on promoting lacrosse in the Milwaukee area. MAYLA is committed to advancing lacrosse by being a resource and encouraging foundation for established and new programs alike. MAYLA offers instruction and games for players of all ages and ability levels. For more information, go to www.milwaukeeyouthlacrosse.com

Teams listed below are affiliated with MAYLA. Developmental teams start as young as first grade for some clubs, with the majority offering teams from third grade through high school.

Wauwatosa Lacrosse Clubblazersyouthlacrosse.com

Brookfield Lacrossebrookfieldlacrosse.org

Kettle Moraine Youth Lacrosse Clubkmlacrosse.com

Lake Country Youth Lacrosse Clubeteamz.com/LCYLC/teams

Northshore Youth Lacrosse Clubnorthshoreyouthlacrosse.org

Ozaukee Youth Lacrosse Clubozaukeelacrosse.com

Lakeshore Lacrosse Clublakeshorelacrosse.org

Waukesha Youth Lacrosse Clubwaukeshalacrosseclub.com

 


This story ran in the April 2012 issue of: