“It’s amazing,” UNR lacrosse coach Chris Tatro said. “To be completely honest, I’m not exactly sure why or how, but man is it becoming big. It’s just exploding. Now that it is getting into the younger ages, it’s going to be fantastic for the overall growth here.”
Although Tatro, who spent three years heading the Spanish Springs High School lacrosse program, said he does not know the exact reason for the lacrosse boom across the Truckee Meadows, he does have an inkling.
“You’re teaching a kid about a sport that they probably haven’t heard of or seen that is actually really, really exciting for them,” he said. “You’re incorporating a lot of mainstream athletics into one sport. You have the physicality of football, the plays of basketball and then you’ve got the field and movement of soccer. These kids know each one of those sports and it’s a perfect combination.
“And it may sound funny, but you’re giving a 10, 12-year-old kid that can’t sit in center field and wait for a ball, you’re giving that kid a stick and saying ‘Hey, run up and down the field, shoot goals and use this stick and hit kids with it,’ and it’s all legal.”
While the physical play may attract some, it is the finesse side that brings others.
“It doesn’t have to be a contact sport,” said David Hoffman, who recently started the first youth lacrosse team in Spanish Springs. “There’s room for physical guys and non-physical guys. It’s got something for every kind of kid. There’s a place out there for the little guys and the big guys. They’re not pigeonholed, so everyone is comfortable and feels like they can play the sport. Anyone can excel.”
So far Hoffman said the Spanish Springs youth team, which consists of 14 players ranging from 9-13 years old, is enjoying every second of being on the field.
“They absolutely love it. They love every aspect of it,” Hoffman said. “They just really enjoy it. There’s good camaraderie between the kids. It’s become their own little second family. They’re all wearing their team sweatshirts all the time. They want to show off that they are lacrosse players.”
However, the kids aren’t the only ones excited about lacrosse.
“I think the parents are actually more excited about it than the kids,” Tatro said. “I think the sport is growing by word of mouth where one parent tells another about how exciting and fantastic lacrosse is. There’s a lot of scoring and it is the fastest game on two feet for a reason. Everyone seems to love that about it.”
Taking into consideration the excitement surrounding lacrosse, there is no sign of its development slowing.
“I’ve gotten some many inquiries from people wondering about getting on the team next year and what we’re doing over the summer,” Hoffman said. “I think more programs will spring up in the area in the next five years. The problem right now is finding coaches. It’s not a natural sport to this area. So, you have to find guys that are willing to go and learn how to coach the game. Once there are enough coaches, that’s when it’s just really going to take off.”
Tatro shared the sentiment. After seeing his roster with the Cougars increase from 16 players in his first season to 86 by his third, he has plenty of reason to believe so.
“The sport is growing very, very rapidly,” he said. “It’s sweeping the nation right now and that’s a fact. That’s not me trying to push the sport. If it wasn’t sweeping the nation, you wouldn’t have teams starting new at the high school level.
“Kids are looking at how exciting it is. They’re looking at it like ‘Wait, I can run around and take a stick and hit a kid and score 18 goals in a game? Sign me up.’ It’s not hard to push the sport because once a kid gets a stick in his hand and starts running around, that’s what he wants to do. It’s exciting to see this grow. When I drive down the road and I see 20 tiny kids playing lacrosse, I absolutely love it.”