A new governing body for youth box lacrosse in the USA is forming, or should I say Swarming, up in Minnesota. The Box Lacrosse Association of America, BLA for short, was founded by Swarm owner Andy Arlotta to offer “real” box lacrosse for boys and girls in the United States.
Mr. Arlotta and his team at the Minnesota Swarm started a movement at the local grassroots level that has propelled a vision for the growth of box lacrosse across the US. First came the Youth Box League (YBL) in Minnesota. The YBL enters its 6th season in the Twin Cities this year, serving the U-9 through U-15 age groups for boys and the U-11 and U-13 age groups for girls.
The formation of the Box Lacrosse Association of America marks an important milestone for Arlotta and his staff because it will finally enable youth players in the YBL to play what they consider ”real” box lacrosse… the game Canadians are more accustomed to playing which echoes the rules of the NLL.
The league will serve 1,200 players this upcoming season. That’s a lot young lacrosse players from one non-traditional lacrosse area. Player registration included insurance coverage provided by the BLA and four tickets to see the Minnesota Swarm.
The YBL players have access to weekly clinics with Swarm players, and after the season is over they can tryout for the Jr. Swarm squad, which is looking to scrimmage a few Canadian or American clubs before Swarm home games in the Xcel Energy Center. The Jr. Swarm are being honored on April 19th when they run out with their older counterparts during Swarm introductions.
According to VP Alec Schimke, the BLA was not formed to rival or force competition with USBOXLA, which was previously the only governing body for youth box lacrosse in the United States. Instead, they feel they are delivering a different option – one staying as true as possible to the Canadian model of box lacrosse.
Perks and Specifics of the BLA
Rules – The rule book was carefully crafted based on the current rules of the CLA and NLL blended together. NLL officials Brad Scibak and Jeff Dolan worked with Alec Schimke and Aime Caines to determine the best set of guidelines to suit the game. The rules encourage fast but safe play, much like the NLL without the unnecessary aggression.
Equipment – The BLA has partnered with Under Armour to offer players the appropriate bicep and kidney protection that are required for box lacrosse. YBL players in Minnesota this season will wear a Swarm replica jersey, which will look like smaller versions of the Swarm sweaters but in different colors to tell the teams apart. Goalies are equipped in full box specific Boddam goalie pads. Epoch lacrosse is also on board as a sponsor offering discounts on gear for players.
Insurance – $40 per player; Covers boys, girls and college players.
Certification – Classes will be held for new BLA programs as they are formed. Classes include instruction and certification for officials, coaches and players from current and former NLL players and officials. The YBL is holding an event sponsored by Under Armour in January with Swarm players Andrew Suitor, Jordan MacIntosh, and others to instruct the specifics of playing, coaching, and officiating box lacrosse .
Check out the Box Lacrosse Association of America’s website for information about box lacrosse and becoming a member.