US Lacrosse Summit Puts Girls Lacrosse Growth In Focus

The L.A. chapter of U.S. Lacrosse held a summit meeting Sept. 26 at Palisades Charter HS designed to bring together people with an interest in helping girls lacrosse grow in L.A.

In the last year alone, the Southern Section of the CIF added a dozen girls high school programs, jumping from 64 teams in 2014 to 76 last spring. The section had added only a dozen programs over the previous four seasons (there were 52 in 2010, according to LaxPower.com).

Ginger Miles, U.S. Lacrosse regional manager for the Pacific, said in order to add even more high school programs, the emphasis should be on youth programs. Eventually, that will create a demand for more high school programs.

“We need to grow intentionally,” Miles said. “Until now, we’ve grown unintentionally; we’ve grown organically.”

She also emphasized creating more youth leagues, perhaps modeled on the American Youth Soccer Organization, with every parent required to offer some sort of volunteer support — coaching, officiating, etc. Getting parents involved on a regular basis early in their daughters’ lacrosse experience ultimately will create more knowledgeable parents and add to the pool of potential officials and coaches long-term.

“For a long time,” Miles said, “Southern California has relied on a very small base of expertise.”

The Southern California Lacrosse Association, operating mostly in the Conejo Valley, lists roughly 10 elementary school and 10 middle school teams on its website. There are many other clubs offering girls programs, but coordinated and organized efforts in L.A. appear to be lagging well behind the boys game.

Also speaking at the summit were UC Santa Barbara coach Paul Ramsey, who shared his insights on the difference between coaching girls and coaching boys; CIF Southern Section communications director Thom Simmons, who discussed the difference between CIF and “club” teams, transfer eligibility and other obstacles to growth; and Orange County Umpire Board chair Kevin Mahoney, who discussed the state of officials for girls lacrosse.

What other resources are there for girls lacrosse in L.A.? Who else is helping to grow the girls’ game? Let us know: news@maxlaxla.com.

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