Back to Basics: Owls hold clinic for Keene Youth Lacrosse
KEENE, N.H. 4/18/12 – The Keene State College men’s lacrosse team went back to the basics on Saturday, hosting its annual clinic with Keene Youth Lacrosse.
The turf field at Owl Athletic Complex was overcome by orange as more than 60 Orange Crunch players, ages seven to 14 and decked out in full regalia, were on hand for a lesson in lacrosse.
“I really enjoy it,” said KSC coach Mark Theriault. “It’s all about the kids and giving back to the community. At the collegiate level we’re so caught up in wins and losses, we sometimes forget about the fun of just playing the game.”
The clinic was organized by Billy Ries, a junior from Putnam Valley, N.Y., and Dylan Gatto, a sophomore who hails from Harvard, Mass.
“Our main goal is to teach them something they don’t know,” said Ries. “We also want them to work hard so they can eventually get to our level and possibly play for Keene State one day.”
“I’ve been coaching lacrosse for years and just get a kick out of watching the kids out here enjoying the sport,” said Gatto. “It brings back a lot of great memories.”
The Keene State team spent the morning schooling the younger players on the fundamentals of the game. Joe Briggs, an 11-year-old from Keene, said he learned about switching hands and passing, 10-year-old Wyle Clarke from Keene liked the action of the game and learning how to dodge, and Mitchell Jones, an 11-year-old from Chesterfield, thought it was cool that you can hit people with your stick.
Seven-year-old Rabie couldn’t wait to come to the clinic. “I’m usually bored because my dad is on the computer and can’t play catch with me, and my brother is younger so I can’t play with him,” he said.
“I believe the kids look up to our players and are able to see them as human beings,” said Theriault. “At the same time, they’re learning some skills and it gives them the opportunity to get a different perspective on the game.”
Chris Mercandetti, the Keene Youth Lacrosse U-13 boys’ coach, said the clinic with Keene State plays a major role in his team’s development. “At our practices, the kids are learning from us old fogies, so it’s great for them to come out and learn from someone who is a little bit closer to their age,” he said. “These college guys are all-stars, in the kids’ minds. It’s just like playing with a pro.”
Mercandetti said interest in the sport is growing in the Monadnock region. “I got six recruits alone last year and our U-11 team is exploding,” he said. “If you have any kind of sports background you can pick it up. Most kids can learn how to throw and cradle in a couple of hours.”