Lacrosse catching on in Utah

Brighton High School played Judge Memorial High School in the state championship lacrosse game in Park City in 2011.

By Doug Lukins

Kids in Utah are putting down baseball bats and picking up lacrosse sticks as the sport gains popularity for springtime recreation.

Youth are drawn to the combination of endurance, hand-eye coordination and the teamwork it takes to succeed at lacrosse. Many parents find it a welcome alternative to the exclusivity of the more popular high school sports.

“(Coaches and admisitrators) are very welcoming in lacrosse compared to other sports,” said Shane Gunn, board member for the Nebo Youth Lacrosse League. “Girls are even allowed to play with the boys up to a certain age.”

Although the sport has been popular on the East Coast for decades, lacrosse hasn’t caught on in Utah until recently. Youth lacrosse leagues have been organizing for 10 years, although Lacrosse is not an Utah High School Activities Association-santioned sport. In many cases, multiple schools will combine to form one team.

“It’s the fastest-growing sport in the country,” said Gunn. “It is in the process of being developed in every school and having it sanctioned. Not just club teams.”

Kids like the unique challenges of the sport and the welcoming environment. Youth can join at any age and pick up the rules quickly.

“There are a lot of activities during a game: passing, kicking, checking and golfing,” said Peyton Evans, a 10-year-old who plays in the Greater Utah Lacrosse League. “It’s like all of these sports mixed together.”

Lacrosse offers kids exercise and fun in a team environment. So what is the best part for youth lacrosse players?

“You wear cool helmets and pads,” said Evans.

Don’t be surprised to see kids playing ball at the park this spring with sticks in hand instead of baseball gloves. Whether it is the recreation, the teamwork or the gear, youth lacrosse is growing in Utah.

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