After 10 years of bringing the sport of lacrosse to local children, the Wellington Wolfpack is offering a special clinic on Friday, Dec. 6 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Village Park (11700 Pierson Road) so interested participants can get a taste of the growing sport.
This opportunity allows young people — boys and girls — to try lacrosse for the first time or brush up on their skills in preparation for the upcoming 2020 season.
“Our league wants to welcome players of all skill levels on to the field — especially those players who are totally new to the sport,” said Robin Bennett, president of the Wellington Youth Lacrosse Association, also known as the Wellington Wolfpack. “Before parents invest in sticks and protective wear, we want their kids to get a sense of the fundamentals and the game to determine if it’s a sport they can get into.”
Lacrosse is gaining in popularity across the country and is a great option for kids who didn’t find a niche in sports like soccer or baseball, which become extremely competitive by the time children are 10 years of age.
Last season, the Wolfpack league had more than 160 participants comprising six boys’ teams and three girls’ teams. They are also expanding the league to include co-ed games for kids five to seven years old. The “Wolfpups” will focus on the fundamentals, with an emphasis on the fun.
“Lacrosse is kind of like super-fast soccer with sticks. It is easy to get enticed by the speed, beauty and skill involved in the game, and it’s great to be a part of the lacrosse community down here,” Bennett said. “It’s still small enough not to be overwhelming — you can really get to know other families — and the sense of building up the sport and our players together remains strong.”
Founded in 2007 by Mark and Cynthia Albers and Wayne “Tracey” Cloth, the WYLA became the official lacrosse provider for Wellington’s Parks & Recreation Department and participates in the South Florida Youth Lacrosse League. The latter reaches from Miami to Palm Beach Gardens. While it began with only boys, the Wolfpack expanded to include girls in 2016.
One of those early players was Mina Hernandez, who earned a scholarship to play lacrosse at the University of Tampa.
“My daughter, Mina, was excited to be a part of the first group of girls coming through middle school into high school from the Wolfpack,” Alberto Hernandez recalled. “She is one of three players still playing in college [from that inaugural team] including Autumn Ryan at Lehigh University and Jenna Niedzwiedzki at Belmont Abbey.”
This fall, a group of players who started with the Wolfpack back in 2010 in the Under 11 Division came together for a reunion tournament at the Veterans Day Invitational Lacrosse Tournament in Palm Coast. Players from Palm Beach Central High School, Wellington High School, the Benjamin School, the Oxbridge Academy, the King’s Academy and Saint John Paul II Academy nearly snagged the championship.
“Lacrosse is a great sport for kids of all ages. It promotes teamwork, discipline, dedication and hard work,” former Board Member Ted Miloch said. “It has incidents of injury and concussions that are less than football and soccer. The cost of playing is less than other sports, too, because the equipment can be worn for many seasons and passed down to younger players.”
The local group has worked hard to keep a solid relationship with US Lacrosse, the national governing body for the sport. The Wolfpack also shares the mentality of training kids to play through a holistic approach with the Lacrosse Athlete Development Model.
“The whole child/whole athlete approach to the sport is unique and shows a perspective that the organization wants what is best for lacrosse players on and off the field,” Bennett explained.
US Lacrosse is also a partner with the Positive Coaching Alliance to instill character building into games, practices and clinics.
The free clinic is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 6 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Field 5 in Village Park (11700 Pierson Road) and is open to children ages five to 14. All skill levels are welcome. No equipment is necessary but bring a water bottle. RSVP to be entered into a raffle for prizes, including lacrosse sticks and balls (must participate in the clinic to qualify). For details, or to register online, visit www.wellingtonlacrosseclinic.com or call (561) 899-9529.