Girls 5 to 15 get chance to learn fast-growing sport
By Lauren Parker-Gill, News Editor, The Times
COATESVILLE – As the sport of lacrosse has been gaining popularity across the nation in recent years, Coatesville Youth Lacrosse Lady Raiders took the city by storm in its inaugural season.
The Coatesville Youth Lacrosse League is volunteer-based organization that provides a positive and fun lacrosse experience for boys and girls between the ages of 5 and 15. Regardless of their initial knowledge of the lacrosse, children in Coatesville now have the opportunity to learn the game and develop their skills in their hometown.
After coaching nine seasons of field hockey and lacrosse in the Unionville youth program, Mandy Pittenger approached the Coatesville Youth Lacrosse director Rob Tompkins and the CYL board about beginning a girls lacrosse program in Coatesville. With their approval Pittenger got to work defining and building a girls’ program.
“Rob and Bruce Shallis have been key figures in not only supporting the girls as a startup but their diligence and passion for making lacrosse a presence in Coatesville is unwavering.” Pittenger said.
Pittenger went on to say that youth programs like this are especially important because it enables children to pick up a lacrosse stick as young as 5 years of age and begin developing the fundamental skills of the sport, including sportsmanship and safety and respect for the game.
“The season was awesome — my girls came to the first night of practice not knowing how to hold a stick, let alone cradle, catch, or throw,” said Melissa O’Hara, coach of the 3-4 team. “It was so inspiring to see them build confidence, score their first goals, win games, play amazing defense and ultimately love the game of lacrosse.”
“To witness a player develop self-confidence, stand taller, smile brighter and laugh louder simply by playing lacrosse, it is simply put…pure joy. Girl power.” Said Pittenger.
The Lady Raiders had girls come out from all six elementary schools in the Coatesville Area School District, all three middle schools, Pope John Paul and charter schools.
“It was amazing. Watching those girls go from having never touched a lacrosse stick, to the 3-4 team winning second place and the 5-6 team winning third place at the Philadelphia Area Girls Lacrosse Association Play Day Tournament was incredible,” said Audrey Fedison, parent of two girls who participated this season. “Emily played field hockey for Unionville in the fall. Cheering on that team was nothing compared to the pride of cheering on our Coatesville girls.”
Pittenger has plans to expand the 7-8 level for next season.
“No seventh or eighth grader should feel discouraged or hesitant in coming onboard and starting lacrosse today,” said Pittenger. “Practice and stick time is all you need.”
The CYL Lady Raiders have plans for a summer camp that will take place June 27-30th at the CASH Multipurpose turf. Girls from K-8th grades of any/all skill levels are invited to celebrate lacrosse and develop their skills and knowledge. New players are encouraged to attend – requirements include a lacrosse stick, goggles and a mouth guard.
Visit the Coatesville Youth Lacrosse website for more information about the league, teams and how to get involved.