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Lacrosse the Santa Clarita Valley

Posted: February 12, 2008 12:28 p.m.
Updated: April 14, 2008 2:01 a.m.

West Ranch High sophomore and New York native Chris Paul passes the ball while at lacrosse practice Thursday afternoon. Local high school area kids are getting into the sport that has much more popularity on the East Coast.03

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The popularity of lacrosse is growing in the Santa Clarita Valley thanks to SCV Lacrosse.

SCV Lacrosse currently oversees all of the lacrosse in the valley, which consists of three clubs.
"SCV Lacrosse is basically an umbrella entity that governs all the lacrosse programs in the valley," said SCV Lacrosse commissioner Steve Tyson.
The three clubs include two high school level programs - Saugus Lacrosse and Santa Clarita Valley Knights, and a middle school program, the Santa Clarita Valley Spartans.
SCV Lacrosse also offers programs at the youth level, but only hosts clinics for the kids. No games are actually played.
Saugus High is currently the only high school with its own club affiliation, but Golden Valley possibly could be the next school to get a club.
"They tried to get a team going last year, but they didn't get enough interest," said Saugus head coach Patrick Campbell.
Instead, the Knights, an at-large team, were formed and currently have a roster with players from every high school except Canyon.
Like the Knights, the Spartans are represented by players from several different schools as well.
"It's not about the school rivalries at this point," Tyson said. "It's about playing lacrosse."
Both the Knights and the Saugus club will be competing in the Pacific Lacrosse League.
The PLL is currently home to six teams, two of which include the Knights and Saugus. Glendale, El Segundo, San Gabrielle and St. John's also compete in the league.
Saugus and the Knights will have a 14-game schedule in 2008, playing each team twice. They will also play games with teams from Orange County and Thousand Oaks.
Despite the growth in popularity of the sport, lacrosse in the valley has obstacles to overcome, particularly with coaching needs.
Tyson's group currently has four coaches and three regular helpers.
"The enthusiasm for the game is there," Tyson said. "I just don't have a place to put the kids. When I find a new coach, I'll open up another program."
Tyson has attempted to recruit potential coaches from the East Coast but says it's tough because they can't offer to pay a coach enough money to live off of.
One of Tyson's coaches moved out here to go to film school and ended up joining the program.
The biggest criteria for a coach, Tyson said, is the interaction they will have with the kids.
"Heart for the kids. I can teach them lacrosse," Tyson said. "I can look at a coach and tell if he has a heart for the kids.
"If they know the game but don't have the heart for the kids, I'll put them under a coach that does."
Tyson requires all of his coaches to undergo the Positive Coaches Alliance Program.
The program concentrates on constructive criticism, as well as, positive reinforcement when speaking to the kids.
Tyson does pay the coaches through a stipend, which includes costs for the certification and other expenses.
Finding refs has been another problem SCV Lacrosse has faced.
"There are a lot of lacrosse factions, entities like SCV Lacrosse," Tyson said. "The programs that get the refs and coaches are the programs that grow."
SCV Lacrosse has put an emphasis on acquiring athletes that have some experience in contact sports.
"You need to have some field presence in order to participate," Tyson said. "You're going to get checked."
Tyson, who hosts seminars at local high schools, said volunteers often "come pouring out of the bleachers" in order to try out the equipment.
Experience is not necessarily something on the top of Tyson's list when acquiring players. He said only about 20 percent of the kids know the game before they sign up for the first time. He credits word of mouth as being the primary method of getting newcomers.
Tyson estimates startup costs to be roughly around $500.
SCV Lacrosse charges $250 to enter the kids into one of these programs and players must provide their own equipment, which at its most basic is roughly another $250.
As a member of the recently formed Santa Clarita Youth Sports Association, SCV Lacrosse has a goal of promoting sportsmanship, character and family.
"We want to put our focus together to grow the sport in the Santa Clarita Valley while promoting those values," Tyson said.
SCV Lacrosse has a no fight policy. They allow only one forgiveness and then they are tossed out of the league.
The season will begin at the end of February.
Further information on the clubs can be found at www.scvgridiron.com.


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