Grow The Game

The Cajun’s Corner: Support For Lacrosse In Louisiana

My motley crew

Since lacrosse isn’t a real sport in Louisiana, or our neighboring states Mississippi, Arkansas, and Alabama, I think I can best illustrate some of the things we go through by copying and pasting a correspondence between a southern coach and myself.

Check it:

Hey –

I’m wrestling with our [school] administration (note: sound familiar? )

For those purposes, can you tell me how often you practice, when? Do you do a fall ball? How many days a week in fall? In winter/spring? How many months of the year? Tournaments? Summer?

Do any of your coaches get stipends from the school?

Do you have varsity status or equip priority for facilities, etc?

Other useful “ammunition”? :-)

THANKS,

Coach X

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Coach X,

I can sympathize whole heartedly.

Our team has practiced since June, 3 days a week. In the summer, since it gets dark pretty late, we practice 5:30-7:30PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays. During the Fall, winter, early spring, we practice 4:30-till we feel like leaving. Last night we were out there till 7:00. Saturdays we practice 9:00am-till we feel like leaving (usually 12:30). After football season is over we will probably start practicing on Fridays. After our first season is over, we might consider doing pick up games next summer.

Neither [other coach] or myself are paid to play and coach lacrosse, whether it be by our Corporation (Dutchtown Lax Club, inc) or by the school. Doesn’t matter to me – giving back to lacrosse is worth every second.

The school is allowing us to use the football field for our four home games and that’s it. We’re practicing on a small, junior league baseball field right now, since it has lights. After 6:00 we have to share it with a pee wee football team.

The school wants nothing to do with us. We can’t even use the same mascot. Hence, we’re just the Dutchtown Lax Club with no mascot. (Note: I want to interject here. This really pissed me off because I made my decision to coach at this school solely on which mascot was coolest, and a F’ing Griffin is wayyy cooler than a Bear or Eagle) We’re using the same colors as the school, since colors aren’t trademarked or copyrighted. But our players can’t bring their sticks to school, and DHS frowns on them wearing their t-shirts. I tell the players to wear their t-shirts anyways – we’re lax players. We’re a different breed, and we’re proud of it. We work hard in everything we do, whether it be lax, school, work, or relationships.

Chances are this info isn’t going to help you out, since your administration can just say ‘look, they don’t get anything either.’ It was the same for us when I played for XXX – we got to use the football field twice during my 4 year tenure. The rest of the time we practiced at LSUS and played games at Caddo Stadium. Basically, I’m used to it, and expected just as much going into this. Maybe one day we’ll be considered a “real” sport (doesn’t that make your skin boil?), but until then, we’re just going to play the hand we’re dealt and work hard at it.

-Knox

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You see, Prairieville or Ascension Parish isn’t exactly the most money saturated area of Louisiana. While it’s certainly not poor or impoversihed either, most household incomes in the area are modest. Put it to you this way, there are 18 mobile home communities in the area, often close to neighborhoods with homes built in the past 5 years (post Katrina) that are over 3,000 sq ft. It’s hit or miss.

That being said, a lot of people don’t have $600-$700 they can shell out on pads and team dues, especially for an unknown sport. We were pumped when 45 kids signed up to play, then depressed when 20 of them quit the next week because of the cost. This summer, when we were getting started up, most of our parents’ straight up told us they couldn’t afford it. If their kids wanted to play, they had to get jobs and pay for it all themselves, or raise the money. And they did. But at first, our players couldn’t afford pads. So we played with tennis balls.

Shooting with tennis balls

To this day, we are still practicing on the little league baseball field, which is roughly half of a lacrosse field. It’s the only lit field we are allowed to use at the moment. But you’ll be happy to know we all have pads now (more on that next time).

Practicing with pads is a luxury

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About the author: Knox is a 24 year old High School Head Coach in a small area east of Baton Rouge. He played High School ball for four years, and college ball for about 1 week until he realized his collegiate priorities rested with more important things like partying and eventually trying to get his grades up. He enjoys things that most Louisiana people do – eating boiled crawfish and alligator, a cold Abita Amber, anything LSU, his dog, and his beautiful girlfriend, Audrey. Lacrosse is not listed because most Louisiana people have no idea what lacrosse is.

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About the author

Hutchinson

Knox is a 25 year old High School Head Coach in a small area east of Baton Rouge. He played High School ball for four years, and college ball for about 1 week until he realized his collegiate priorities rested with more important things like partying and eventually trying to get his grades up. He enjoys things that most Louisiana people do – eating boiled crawfish and alligator, a cold Abita Amber, anything LSU, his dog, and his beautiful girlfriend, Audrey. Lacrosse is not listed because most Louisiana people have no idea what lacrosse is.

12 Comments

  • when we were starting a team at my HS there was a LOT of opposition to the idea… and I grew up in the hotbed known as the people's silly republic and commonwealth of Massachusetts.
    Once you get the team entrenched and a couple more people believe in it, support will come much faster. Some of the keys are academic success and linking that success to your team. dedication to the school and the sport. your players' dedication to their teammates. keeping your team's nose clean. do all that and win some games and bam… it will happen. persistence pays off! good luck and keep spreading the greatest game in the world!

  • oh please do not get me started on support…. are school neighbors 2 other school districts with lacrosse – the state champs are from the same county and I still can not get a team together – so no high school playing!!!!!!!!!! and this is central new jersey!!! a lacrosse stick was not allowed on the bus because it was considered a “weapon” – not kidding!

  • i feel for ya. spending my highschool years in the las vegas area the school not only gave us no support but seemed to be against the idea of lacrosse all together. my club team (made up of kids from my highschool, with the same mascot as the highschool and the same colors) got to use the football field twice for home games during my senior year, and that was only because the club paid a ridiculous fee…

  • I was part of a program that started up in 1999 and faced a lot of the challenges that you just discussed (save the money issue, a lot of my teammates were pretty well off). We will officially start our 12th season next month, and are now more entrenched in to our school’s culture than some of the long standing varsity sports at the school. Here’s what we did:

    1. Persistency – Every year we were told we couldn’t do certain things (use certain fields, practice at certain times, have more than one squad, receive money from the school’s boosters, etc). Every year we came back and asked again. Eventually the school got the idea that we weren’t going away, and it might be easier to have a positive relationship with us.

    2. Like Connor said, keeping your nose clean is a huge issue. When you’re the new kid on the block, every bad thing you do gets magnified. It’s important for the coach to make sure that his players are representing the lacrosse program with class while they are at school.

    3. Recruitment – Our school has just 640 students. In some years we’ve had as many as 60 boys and 60 girls involved in the lacrosse program. When 20% of your student body participates in something, you can’t ignore it anymore.

    4. Get Involved – Many of our kids are in student government, many others volunteer to help with school fundraisers, participate in other clubs, etc. When your guys become noticeable participants in campus life, it lends credibility to everything that they do, including lacrosse.

    In 1999 we weren’t allowed to practice at our school. Now we have three fields to work with, access to the scoreboard, access to the PA system, access to the weight room all year long, and access to the school gym during the winter. We can even pull our kids out of school for a day to go recruit junior high players, or leave early for a travel tournament. It’s a long road, but if you follow Dr. Lou’s mantra of “Do what’s right and do your best”, you'll get there.

  • hello, my name is Emma, I live in Lafayette, LA, although I am from overseas. I have never played lacrosse before but I have tried many other sports, from football (meaning soccer) to inline hocckey, through diving, rugby, basketball, volleyball and others. I have seen some lacrosse games and would really like to try. Does anybody know if there is any adult team/group/association in Lafayette or surroundings where I could start playing lacrosse?
    thanks a lot. M

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