Alive and Well: First Stick Success Stories

By Paul Ohanian

First Stick Success

Mitch Fenton

Alexander Hamilton High School in Los Angeles recently completed a successful spring season for both its boys’ and girls’ lacrosse teams, with the girls’ losing by one goal in the semifinal round of LA City Championship, and the boys finishing as championship runner-up. VIDEO.

A great season for any school, but even more so considering that lacrosse did not exist at Hamilton until two years ago.

Through a US Lacrosse First Stick Grant, both teams took the field for the first time in 2015. Equipment, coaching education and additional resources provided through First Stick helped support the start up.

“I think it’s important for folks to know what an impact First Stick has had on the lives of Hamilton students and their families,” said Mitch Fenton, who coordinated the grant submission for both of Hamilton’s teams and heads the school’s booster club. “Three seasons ago, 100 families were unaware of lacrosse. Because of the grants, lacrosse sticks are now seen all over campus.”

Through the efforts of Fenton and others, the lacrosse culture is also growing. This spring, Hamilton hosted a special day to honor the memory of Myron Wonders, who was a lacrosse pioneer in Los Angeles and a member of the US Lacrosse Greater Los Angeles Chapter’s Hall of Fame.

The event provided Hamilton’s players with an appreciation of what others have done to help foster the growth of the sport. VIDEO

“The values and traditions of our sport are alive and well in Los Angeles,” Fenton said.

The same might be true in Prince George’s County, Maryland, which sponsored its first county championships for boys and girls lacrosse this spring. Bowie High School captured both titles with victories over Eleanor Roosevelt High School in the finals. Read more from this Washington Post story.

Three years ago, US Lacrosse hosted a Physical Education Workshop for county teachers, who were introduced to the game through the use of soft lacrosse equipment. Some of the county’s schools, including Friendly High School, are also First Stick grant recipients.

“Last year, for year one, we had one game, homemade jerseys, and no way of transportation,” said Friendly’s Alyssa Hoover. “We did however, have the beautiful equipment that US Lacrosse provided to us. This spring, we not only had equipment, but we were recognized as a varsity sport and funded by the county. That included uniforms and funds for officials and transportation.”

This year, seven Prince George’s County schools fielded boys’ teams and eight had girls’ teams. Next year, county teams will be eligible to participate in the Maryland state lacrosse tournament and the hope is that the majority of the county’s 24 high schools will field teams.

“I want to personally thank US Lacrosse for changing the lives of these girls and allowing them to fall in love with lacrosse,” Hoover said.

First Stick

First Stick Program

The First Stick Program provides comprehensive developmental resources, equipment, and coaches training to awarded teams, with the ultimate goal of developing self-sustaining programs that operate by US Lacrosse national standards and best practices.

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