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FUEL


GROWTH GROWTH


continued from page 19


Jim Connolly, a former All-American attackman at UMass who scored the overtime goal that sent the Minutemen to the 2006 fi nal four, never forgot the lessons he learned playing for his hometown MBYLL program in North Andover. He utilizes them still today as the general manager and director of player development for Gorilla Lax, a non-profi t lacrosse training organization, and as a US Lacrosse Coach Development Program trainer.


“While it’s true that I have played at the highest levels of lacrosse in college and the pros, to be honest with you, the most fun I have ever had was playing with my MBYLL team,” Connolly said in a 2015 address to his Mass Bay Select U13 all-star team. Kids aren’t complicated. They want to have fun, play with their peers and represent their community. Creating and sustaining a local lacrosse organization that provides that experience to thousands of them, however, can become a byzantine endeavor. What’s MBYLL’s secret? As the league celebrates its 25th anniversary, it’s making a point to share its core tenets with anyone who will listen, while acknowledging there’s plenty left to learn.


“There are many communities in Massachusetts that don’t have lacrosse,” Spangenberg said. “There are still opportunities for us to bring lacrosse to a new zip code, urban and rural areas to grow the game. We can always get better.”


20 US LACROSSE MAGAZINE May/June 2017


COMMUNITY


BASED There’s that word again. During a 40-minute discussion with MBYLL leaders, “community” came up 17 times.


Bob Flynn, president


of Northborough- Southborough Youth Lacrosse and MBYLL’s vice president of game administration, cited single- and early-sport specialization as the “danger trends.” “If you’re not the only kid at 11 years old in your town that’s good enough to play with the 18 kids from the 18 surrounding towns, you don’t have an opportunity to play,” he said. “If you’re not the all-star and committed to a college before you ever step foot on a high school fi eld, you’re somehow a failure and you better go somewhere else. The community-based relevance is because we object to that.”


VOLUNTEER


LEADERSHIP Community and volunteerism go hand in hand. You don’t need lacrosse IQ to secure fi elds, order uniforms or procure equipment for your players. But these are critical administrative functions non- lacrosse playing parents could fulfi ll. At the leadership level, all MBYLL board of directors, town leaders and coaches are volunteers. Several also serve on chapter and national committees with US Lacrosse.


COACHING


EDUCATION MBYLL funds and organizes education, certifi cation, clinics and online training for all of its coaches and town leaders. This includes enrollment in the US Lacrosse Coach Development Program and the Positive Coaching Alliance. “It’s the most important thing we do,” Spangenberg said. Joey Picard,


MBYLL’s vice president of communications, helped establish Melrose Youth Lacrosse in 2006. “We didn’t have a body of former players who were coming back to coach the sport,” he said. “We had to start from scratch and get dad volunteers as coaches to go through the training. We struggled for a few years. Now it’s one of the better towns in the league in terms of size and experience.”


USlacrosse.org


©GREG KLIM


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