by Jo Kelly
The Swarthmore Recreation Association began the first of a series of programs connecting high school varsity players with youth athletes on August 23, at Rutgers Field.
The camp, focused on teaching Haven Youth Lacrosse players new techniques that realistically translate to the field, was organized and run entirely by the Strath Haven boys varsity lacrosse team. The program served as a fund-raising event for the high school players. Eighty percent of the proceeds were given to the team for future use.
The second morning of the camp was clear and cool, ideal weather for playing. HYL players ranging in ages from 10 to 14 were arriving at Rutgers laden with pads, helmets, and enormous water jugs, while the SHHS varsity boys had already begun discussing the agenda for the day. Some of the younger boys settled on the bleachers and were having an animated discussion about whether or not they would scrimmage that day (a favorite activity among the youth lacrosse players of Nether-Swarthmore).
One of these boys was John Kelly, a rising sixth grader and defender on the HYL team. When asked what his favorite thing about the HYL lacrosse camp was, Kelly promptly answered, “Smacking people with sticks…the coaches let us play more here and so I get to do a lot of hitting.” Fellow player Chris Patterson, a rising fifth grader and midfielder, said his favorite were, “One v. one drills,” a drill in which two players face off against each other in an attempt to either attain or retain possession.
Not only was the camp a lot of fun for the boys, it was also educational. Kelly had recently learned the “swim dodge,” a skill frequently employed by the Strath Haven varsity players to evade a defender in close proximity while simultaneously throwing the defender off-balance. Jude Korb, a rising seventh grader and midfielder, explained that he was working on mastering the goal line extended drill, a technique involving behind-the-cage shooting and shooting around a defender.
The coaches also realized the benefits of the program. Ben Orye, a rising senior and varsity defender on Strath Haven who has played lacrosse for nine years, appreciated that the HYL camp “connects high schoolers with youth” and “helps [him] see lacrosse from a coaching perspective,” rather than from the perspective of a high school player. Orye previously had “a little bit of experience with coaching; it’s fun.” Orye’s close friend and fellow player, Jamison Soeiro, rising senior and varsity attackman, also enjoyed the camp, saying that he most especially enjoyed “hanging out with [his] friends while also teaching little kids.” Both agreed that the camp was “really fun and a great opportunity.” Soeiro joked, “It’s definitely chaotic,” later adding that “[that’s] what makes this camp different.”