Women’s lacrosse team inspires future female athletes with free youth clinic

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Elementary participant in Lafayette women’s lacrosse team’s free clinic successfully scooping a ground ball in “Hungry Hippo” drill. (Photo courtesy of @lafayette_wlax instagram)

Colleen McNamara

The Lafayette Women’s lacrosse team invited youth players and families of the Lehigh Valley community to participate in a free youth clinic Saturday, Sept. 25 on Fisher Field. The clinic was hosted by the team and team coaches, Katie McConnell, Emily Considine, and Nikki Prestiano. 

Captains senior Caroline Garti and junior Sarah Bennett aided in the success of the day by leading the warm-ups, assisting with games like “hungry hippo” or “steal the bacon,” and overall being role models for the unseasoned lacrosse players. 

Senior captain Caroline Garti and Lafayette Lacrosse team warming youth participants up for the free clinic. (Photo courtesy of @lafayette_wlax)

“My favorite part of Saturday had to be when our third-grade players came out of their shells and started doing mini celebrations after every goal. Handstands and cartwheels were their favorite moves and they all seemed to have a lot of fun,” Garti said.

“The girls were more outgoing as we started to encourage them to be competitive. Coming up with creative team names and the enthusiastic celebrations were definitely a highlight,” Bennett said.

In addition to boosting confidence and create wild team names for competitions, the youth clinic was a unique way to connect with aspiring athletes and their families. 

“I think hosting a free clinic on Fisher Field was an amazing opportunity. It was awesome to see the community come together,” Garti said. “Women’s lacrosse should be available to any young girl who wants to play, regardless of their financial situation.”

Women’s lacrosse is the fastest-growing college sport in America and is also growing in youth participation, according to Heartland College Sports. Additionally, the number of participating NCAA women’s teams grew from 238 in 2001 to 483 in 2018, which is nearly a 203% increase in that time. Both professional and amateur participation is increasing.

Young female lacrosse participant numbers are also increasing. As stated by Heartland College Sports, there is a 43.1% in girls playing, and the NCAA has seen a 65% increase in the number of new lacrosse programs for women athletes.

As explained by Heartland College Sports, lacrosse has been considered an “elite” sport played at exclusive private colleges for much of its history. This makes the recent skyrocketing growth so impressive.

The casual clinic Lafayette held last weekend encouraged young girls to continue to develop their skills and to exemplify that there are opportunities to continue as female lacrosse players at the collegiate level and professional level. 

“I think the clinic was an incredible opportunity to connect with the young girls who are playing lacrosse in the surrounding community. When we connect with the community, we can get them to come out to support games and to grow the sport,” Bennett said. 

Most of the 33 current Lafayette team members had the opportunity to model lacrosse drills with the youth participants.

“It was really fun to see how smiley and energetic the young girls made my teammates on Saturday. The young players brought Lafayette women’s lacrosse’s core values of positive energy and enthusiasm, which made it enjoyable for all,” Garti said. 

To have the field space and time to dedicate to the younger generation of the Lafayette community was a special opportunity that brought the Lafayette lacrosse team together in a different way and reinforced their gratitude for their sport. 

“It was great to share our love of the game with the next generation of female athletes,” Bennett said. “Whether they stick with lacrosse or not, being an athlete is an amazing experience every girl should have.” 

Disclaimer: Colleen McNamara ’24 is a member of the Lafayette women’s lacrosse team.