Sport Gaining Popularity Across the Space Coast
We’ve all seen the news and heard the stories. According to the DatalysCenter (Datalyscenter.org), football will account for 37% of all sports-related concussions in practice and competition. Some of us have even lived it ourselves or through our children who participate in the sport. Chances are if you have a son or daughter playing contact football, you’ve recently reevaluated, or at least reconsidered, your position on this issue.
Enter lacrosse – that game you’ve seen played, but know so little about (compared to football, anyway). A little bit hockey and a little bit soccer, with a dash or two of basketball, and even some football mixed in, lacrosse is taking the Space Coast by storm.
In addition to being the oldest sport played in North America (by Native Americans for 1,000 years), lacrosse is also dubbed “the fastest game on two feet,” because of its near non-stop action, fast pace, and intensity. Most kids who experience it at any age are instantly hooked.
Now, apply the same research and men’s lacrosse will account for 4% of concussions in the same period – add in women’s lacrosse and it is still only 7% of the total – and you begin to see why it is growing so fast.
Grab a Stick, Join a Club
Roger Welton knows this, and appreciates the sport more than most. He’s the CEO of Viera Lacrosse and Sport, and was a 4-year lacrosse starter for Montclair State University, where he earned two First Team All-Knickerbocker Conference midfielder honors. Seldom seen without a lacrosse stick in his hand, Roger is also the founder and Board Chair of the Viera Suntree Lacrosse Club. Their mission, according to Roger, is “to give kids an opportunity to experience one of the oldest team sports in America.”
The league emphasizes “teaching the proper fundamentals along with good sportsmanship and team play.” While this is a relatively new club, you wouldn’t know it on game days. Viera Regional Park is packed with hundreds of families on any given Saturday during the season, but these lacrosse crowds are different here from those of many of the other area youth sports leagues. Both teams are on the same sideline, separated only by the scoring table, which means that both teams’ spectators are mixed together on the other sideline. What you’ll hear is one parent complimenting another for a player’s defense or score, regardless of what team they’re on. It’s quite a positive environment, but don’t think the parents aren’t keeping score, it is highly competitive!
Do You Know Your Middies from Your D-Poles?
If you see an organized game being played, stop by for a few minutes, you’ll get caught up in why it has become so popular. A practice can be a bit harder to follow, with the players wearing whatever gear they like, but an actual game with proper team jerseys is a blast to watch! The offense and defense are on the field at the same time, and players are substituted while the game is being played. Take that with the fast ball speed and frequent shots on goal, and you’re never starved for action. You’ll learn to distinguish “Attacks” from “Middies,” and see why the defensive players are often called “D-Poles.” And then there are the Goalies, the bravest souls on the field, armed with a little extra padding and sticks that resemble your pool net. This holds true on both the men’s side of the field as it does the ladies’, only the level of contact allowed and head gear are different.
Besides league play up and down the coast, the Viera Suntree Lacrosse Club also organizes regular clinics throughout the year to introduce and reinforce lacrosse basic skills and invite kids (and parents) to try out the sport. The spring recreation season is for organized competitive play with other youth clubs, but maintains the focus of learning the sport and most of all, having fun.
This is a fast, fun game to watch at any level, so be careful, you might just get hooked. Many Space Coast kids and parents are right there with you, and your numbers are growing!
For more information, visit VieraLacrosseandSport.com