Stevens Point Youth Lacrosse team wins first Conference Title
Portage County Gazette
By John Kemmeter
The 14U Stevens Point Youth Lacrosse team won the Bay Valley Lacrosse Association Championship Saturday, June 2, for the program’s first Conference Title.
The team went 3-0 at the Bay Valley Lacrosse Association Championship in Appleton, as it outscored its opponents by a 30-10 margin to claim the Conference Championship for the fourth-year program.
“It was very exciting and we are very proud of the boys,” said Stevens Point Youth Lacrosse Association General Manager Amy Simon. “My son happens to be one of the boys that have been with the program for all four years, and this will be their last year, so it was neat for a lot of them to go out like this.”
The Stevens Point Youth Lacrosse Association was started four years ago by Jim Mendyke, whose son wanted to play lacrosse, and had to travel to Wausau to join a team.
“He just decided one day, ‘let’s see if we can start it up,’” said Simon. “He spread it through word of mouth, it was through a lot of hockey players, because his son played hockey, and we just happened to hear about it.
“It started with a couple kids in a field, there were about 15 kids the first season, and now there are around 80,” she said. “So it’s pretty exciting to see the growth.”
At the Bay Valley Lacrosse Association Championship, the Stevens Point 14U team opened with a 10-4 win over Appleton 1, then beat Wausau 11-3 in the semifinals.
That sent Stevens Point to the Championship Game, where it won 9-3 over Green Bay to claim the program’s first Championship.
“I can’t believe our success in such a short time, but we do have such great, dedicated coaches and a management team,” said Simon. “We’ve heard over and over what a well-oiled machine we are, and you can see it in the kids’ results.
“Our first year, we were getting beat by a lot of these teams that have been around for more years than we have,” she said. “So it was just real rewarding to see the boys end a season like this.”
Over the last four years, the Stevens Point Youth Lacrosse program has expanded to include a 10U, 12U and 14U team during the regular season, as well as a 12U extended season team, and this year added the Central Wisconsin Select 14U team to compete in traveling tournaments during the summer.
Teams practice two or three times a week at Madison Elementary School during the regular season, which starts with practices in late March and goes until the first weekend of June.
More information about the organization is available at StevensPointYouthLacrosse.org or at the Facebook page “Stevens Point Youth Lacrosse,” while the Stevens Point Youth Lacrosse Association holds free “Intro to Lacrosse” nights toward the start of the season for kids interested in playing the sport.
“The kids can come in, we give them a stick to use, we give them the pads and stuff to try out, to see if they like the sport, before they give the commitment,” said Simon. “And even when they want to try it out, we let them come to a few practices, and we usually provide our first-year players with free pads and free helmet rental, just to help them get into the program.
“We know sometimes cost is a factor to some families,” she said. “And we just wanted to make it available to the kids that really want to play.”
Stevens Point Area Senior High School (SPASH) has lacrosse as a varsity club sport, with a varsity and junior varsity team. Lacrosse is a non-WIAA sport, as the Wisconsin Lacrosse Federation oversees boys and girls youth and high school lacrosse, and hosts the Wisconsin Lacrosse Federation High School State Championships in Waukesha each year.
This year’s 14U team will be the first group from the Stevens Point Youth Lacrosse Association to feed into the SPASH program starting next season, and Simon is excited to see what the future holds.
“We’ve grown to love this sport,” said Simon, who had no background in lacrosse before her son decided to play. “We’ve got a lot of great families, and it’s amazing to see how fast it’s grown in just four years.
“It’s a different opportunity for kids than some of the other sports,” she said. “And we’ve had such great success.”