Over the past few years, the West Coast has seen an influx of talented lacrosse players thanks to the sport's growing popularity at the high school level.
While common perception is that the East Coast still rules lacrosse, instruction and a new brand of the game is making its way to Southern California in hopes of narrowing the divide. The help is coming from an unlikely source – Canada.
Our neighbors to the North are ubiquitous for their prowess with the puck, but there is a tremendous amount of talented players as comfortable finding the net with a lacrosse ball as a hockey puck.
As recently as 2010, one-third of the top point scorers in Division I Lacrosse were Canadian, despite the fact that only one-twentieth of the players in Division I were Canadian.
Despite a stronger financial commitment and larger numbers of American athletes, Canadians have had fantastic success, which Jamie Munro of 3d Lacrosse attributes to better stick skills due to the prevalent use of hockey sticks within a hockey rink.
Bay League Coach of the Year and current Mira Costa coach Chris Jewett knew all about this phenomenon, but how to get it from the frigid north to sunny Southern California?
The answer is Box Lacrosse, a compressed version of field lacrosse, played inside a roller/hockey rink, with teams of five competing to score on a 4’x4’ net.
“I played box in high school," said Jewett. "It makes you such a better field player. Pick and roll play, off ball movement and transitions are so much more crisp in it. The goals are smaller, so you have to be tremendously accurate as a shooter and passer.”
Just this weekend, Munro and the professional coaches from 3d Lacrosse took their expertise to Huntington Beach to hold the first of camp of its kind in Southern California. The SoCal Immersion Lacrosse Camp was open to kids from third grade through high school.
Munro, who pioneered the "Box/Field Hybrid Development System" in the United States as a head coach in division I at Yale and most recently at the University of Denver, is enthusiastic about the system’s ability to ramp up playmaking by focusing on skills such as: finishing, faking, catching in traffic, passing, cutting, picking and screening.
Said Jewett, “I had the pleasure of coaching a box clinic with the 3d staff this summer in Canada and it was one of the most enlightening and enjoyable lacrosse experiences of my life! Jamie Munro is a brilliant innovator.”
The camp focused on individual player development and included high repetitions in a practice setting to prepare players for competition.
Players were separated into two age groups based on grade level, with third to eighth grade and high school divisions.
While the camp has created excitement, what most excites Jewett is that this fall a Box League will be coming to the South Bay, with teams competing on a club level in Torrance.
“Like it or not, kids are specializing in sports these days," said Jewett. "They are playing sports year-round, but Box Lacrosse is night and day different from field [lacrosse]. That’s great for them, because they’re still improving skills, but get a change of pace.”
Fall leagues will begin play at the end of September, sanctioned by and using the rules and regulations of U.S. Box Lacrosse.
Jewett has received commitment from 20 high school coaches and is starting to hear from middle school teams. He hopes to get more youth teams to join before play begins this month.
For more information on the boys Fall Box League, contact Chris Jewett.