We recently learned that Eric Law has taken a job with Denver City Lax, so we sat down with DCL’s Ben Allison to talk about this new hire, and what DCL has in store for the future. The Denver City Lax guys are true Game Growers, and we’re excited to see more professional lacrosse players of Law’s stature getting involved!
What will Eric be doing for DCL? How much will he be interacting directly with kids? Is this a full time gig?
Eric will play a big role on the field with practices, clinics & camps, and off the field with general day to day operations, program awareness, and fundraising. He will be spending a lot of time with kids on the field – we would be crazy to keep that kind of talent locked up in an office!
This fall, for instance, Eric will be on the field once a week at our City Lax Thursday clinics, and will also be at our first City Lax camp coming up next month. He will also be helping us introduce lacrosse for the first time to elementary and middle school kids. In the spring, we practice five days a week and play games on Saturdays day, with games on Saturdays.
Eric was just drafted to the Toronto Rock, is part of the 52 man training roster for Team USA, and will be playing for the Denver Outlaws when the spring rolls around. He’s got a lot on his plate! Therefore, our week to week schedule with Eric is not set in stone. I imagine that some weeks Eric will put in full time hours and others he will not. This is an arrangement that we are very comfortable with simply because Eric is an extremely hard worker, and is passionate about what we are doing at Denver City Lax, so we know that he will give us everything he’s got!
Is it important for you guys to get Colorado natives involved? Does that local flavor add any additional authenticity to the coaching and messaging?
Yes, it’s very important for us to get Colorado natives involved. We’ve had numerous great volunteers who are not from Colorado, and I’m sure in the future we will have many more volunteers and staff members that are not CO natives. That being said, if we are able to get someone involved that is from Colorado more times than not there is a smaller learning curve, and they can make instant connections with potential donors and volunteers.
We’ve seen this first hand with Dillon Roy, and now Eric as well. Both grew up in Denver, attended the University of Denver, and currently play locally for the Denver Outlaws. The message they are able to convey to the Denver City Lax kids and families regarding opportunities through lacrosse is strong. On the nonprofit side, Dillon has engaged numerous donors for us, and Eric has that same potential. These two guys have a lot of respect in the Colorado lacrosse community and we are lucky to have them both working with Denver City Lax.
Can you tell us a little more about the expansion DCL has planned? How big are you going? Is it a gradual plan? How many kids do you have now?
We field youth teams 2nd/3rd through 8th grade and play in youth league involving 30+ other clubs and over 300 teams. Last year Denver City Lax had nine teams and about 185 kids playing full time. Hundreds of other kids were introduced to the game at school clinics. Each year we “graduate” 8th grade teams (boys and girls) to high school, and then add new teams at the 2nd/3rd grade level to keep the rotation going. That usually works out from 40 to 60 new full time participants each year. We expect 200+ kids this year.
The more we involve people like Eric on the field, the more time we free up others to continue building the capacity of the organization. Financial support is always the challenge to maintain growth and sustainability, especially since we supply all equipment, registration fees, and enrichment opportunities at NO COST to partcipants. We are still a young grass roots organization and ask ourselves, “How big do we want to be?” Right now our growth is gradual, it’s important for our funding to catch up to the size of our organization. But for me, it’s hard to categorize 50+ new full time participants, and hundreds more introduced to lacrosse through clinics as gradual.
How is DCL planning on taking in or being involved with the 2014 World Games? It’s going to be great to have that kind of lacrosse in Denver next Summer. Is there a bigger plan for you guys?
As the urban lacrosse program in the host city we hope to be a leader in spreading the message of diversity in the game. We have several plans for doing so, but nothing is official yet so I don’t want to speak too soon. With all of the volunteers running the World Games, I know it’s been a challenge to get everyone on the same page. We are confident that Denver City Lax will play an important role of spreading the message of diversity though!
With all the success DCL has seen, if you could give out one piece of advice to a person trying to start a NFP lacrosse group, what would it be?
Start with only 1, maybe 2, teams at a young age – in the 3rd to 5th grade range. Plug into a league, which provides a structured season, that will include practices and games. Use an elementary school (find a principal/teacher) to sign up your players, and immediately connect the effort with education and the history of the game. Your big needs are a field and a league.
We’ve personally been fortunate to connect and build relationships with other urban lacrosse programs such as MetroLacrosse, BRIDGE Dallas, CityLax in New York, and many others, and we learned, and learn, a lot from all of them. I strongly encourage anyone interested in starting a program contact us or one of these other organizations.
Thanks for taking the time out to speak with us, Ben!
See below for the full press release from Denver City Lax:
DENVER, CO, September 23, 2013 - Denver City Lax announced today that Eric Law has been hired as a Program Manager for the 2013-14 season. Denver City Lax is a sports-based youth development organization creating educational and enrichment opportunities for youth in underserved Denver neighborhoods. The program has introduced lacrosse to thousands of youth, and currently serves over 200 students in the metro area at no cost to participants.
“We’re thrilled to add Eric to our staff,” said Executive Director, Rod Allison. “He is highly thought of both locally and nationally, and has a wealth of lacrosse knowledge to go along with a great work ethic. We think Eric can make an immediate impact, and assist Denver City Lax in our next phase of growth.”
Law grew up in Littleton, CO and attended Arapahoe High School where he led his team to their first state championship in 2009. He graduated in 2013 from the University of Denver where he served as a captain under Bill Tierney, and helped lead the Pioneers to the NCAA Final Four. While at DU, Law accumulated 152 career points and was named a USILA Scholar All-American & Honorable Mention All American.
“I am excited to join Denver City Lax where I have the opportunity to give back to the sport that has given me endless amounts of possibilities,” said Law. “I am proud to be a part of an organization that is about more than just sports.”
Law currently plays Major League Lacrosse for the Denver Outlaws where he finished a record setting rookie season. The Toronto Rock of the National Lacrosse League made Law the 28thoverall selection in the NLL draft, and he was also named to the USA national team’s 52-player training roster.
Law will be joining University of Denver alumni and fellow Denver Outlaw Dillon Roy in working with Denver City Lax. Roy has played an instrumental role with the youth organization for several years as a volunteer, coach, mentor and board member.
“It’s our goal to involve the best possible people in our organization, and we are lucky to have people like Eric and Dillon on board,” said Allison. “They are not only two of the best lacrosse players ever from the state of Colorado, but more importantly, they are passionate about using lacrosse to make an impact in young kid’s lives.”