Middle School Girls Take On Lacrosse
• Ridgecrest, Miraleste and Palos Verdes Intermediate school have developed strong girls’ lacrosse programs.
While football, basketball and soccer are the most popular sports played in middle school and high school, more students are becoming interested in lacrosse.
In the middle schools across the Hill, girls’ lacrosse teams have been forming and expanding with the increasing interest in the sport. Intermediate schools Ridgecrest, Miraleste and Palos Verdes have teams with more than 20 girls and have been competing since the start of high school team play.
In the past, there have been clinics held at the intermediate schools to motivate eighth graders to join the lacrosse team at Peninsula and Palos Verdes, after playing for their middle school team.
For the past 18 years, Joan Russell has been coaching and helping to develop the sport throughout the Palos Verdes community. The work of Russell and other parents in promoting the program has led to the creation of teams not only within the district but also in collaboration with the U.S. Lacrosse Greater Los Angeles Chapter.
“Like many of the parent and coaches in our area, we have had to coach so our children could play,” Russell said. “I coach when needed in order to grow the game.”
Russell’s daughter played on the Peninsula High lacrosse team, and she has since grown a passion for the sport. She decided to take on the responsibility of being a coach for a sport that she loved.
Many girls who play on the middle school teams are not as experienced as others. However, with the help of their teammates and coaches, they are able to improve in technique and skill.
“Lacrosse is different than other sports,” Russell said. “We get many players that have never played, so we start with the basics every season. The girls are very surprised on how quickly they catch on to the game, but it holds back the development of the experienced players. It never seems to bother them, they love sharing their knowledge of the sport with the new players. They inspire me.”
The Miraleste girls’ head coach Kevin Cox has never played lacrosse, but he gathers his experience he has received from other sports to apply it into coaching lacrosse through the implementation of drills and game strategy.
“We are so fortunate Kevin Cox coached at Miraleste Intermediate School even though he never played the game,” Russell said. “We need more people like him. He was a great asset to our team; his coaching skills and knowledge led our girls to win both of their games on our final game day with PVIS and RIS.”
The teams have scheduled games on Monday afternoons from 2:30 to 5:30. The schools divide their team into two sections, A Team and B Team.
Athletes on the A team play full games, while B teams play All-Play this school year. In All-Play, three teams compete at the same time. Two teams play and the third team waits on the the sideline. When a goal is scored the team waiting on the sideline is rotated in. They keep rotating for an hour of play.”
While the popularity of the sport is increasing, the need for more coaches is rising. As of this year, the teams are in jeopardy of losing the program due to the insufficient number of coaches.