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Sticks-2-Schools brings lacrosse to Sunol Glen

By Alyson Whitaker

June 1, 2010

Sticks-2-Schools brings lacrosse to Sunol Glen
By Alyson Whitaker
Photos by Karlee McNeil

As the students filed onto the Sunol Glen field and were handed a stick, there was a great deal of curiosity and anticipation. Many had never even seen a lacrosse stick, let alone held one! Guest lacrosse coaches Jen Milus and Bob Mezeul from Sticks-2-Schools began their instructional demonstration and the students couldn?t wait to give it a try.

Childhood obesity is an epidemic. In order to get fit and healthy, kids need to get off the couch and stay active. This includes the hours of a typical school day as well. Without the necessary funding to upgrade or enhance their PE programs with the needed equipment or instructors, schools all over the country are struggling to provide students with the required elements of physical education.

Sticks-2-Schools (S2S) is a local non-profit organization that provides local schools with lacrosse equipment, curriculum, and support to schools to introduce co-ed soft lacrosse into the Physical Education curriculum. Since 2005, the organization has introduced co-ed soft lacrosse into the PE and after-school programs at 78 elementary, middle, and high schools in the Greater Bay Area. Through generous corporate sponsors and private donors, an estimated 40,000 youth have learned to play lacrosse, having fun, and getting fit along the way.

The organization offers a variety of lacrosse programs, and is adaptable to meet the needs of the school. The full lacrosse program brought enough sticks and soft lacrosse balls for 40 students to Sunol Glen. Visiting coaches provided two days of basic instruction, along with curriculum guides for a six-week PE rotation program. The equipment is the school's to keep, provided they make the commitment to implement the program throughout the year with the classroom teachers.

Considered to be America's first sport, lacrosse was invented by Native Americans. It is an exhilarating, fast-paced sport that includes elements of basketball, soccer, and hockey. No dedicated field or special structures are required and both boys and girls of all ages and athletic abilities can play. The sport helps children develop and increase their hand-eye coordination, speed, and agility and is an excellent form of exercise, as players are constantly running up and down the field. It is not unusual to run several miles over the course of a single game.

Sports Illustrated Journalist Alexander Wolff said about lacrosse, "As parents discover that lacrosse is more exciting than soccer, cheaper than ice hockey and not as dangerous as football, the game is getting a closer look."

Sunol Glen parent Lisa Garcia contacted Sticks-2-Schools after seeing an ad at a Washington Stealth lacrosse game, (previously known as the San Jose Stealth) earlier this year. With just 250 students, the school has no dedicated gymnasium or PE instructors'grade level teachers rotate teaching PE to the students a couple of times a week. It is a challenge finding curriculum and activities that don't require extensive equipment, and yet will still provide the students with an opportunity for exercise as well as burning off excess energy.

While professional lacrosse is a full-contact sport similar to hockey, the lacrosse taught at the schools is known as "co-ed soft lacrosse." The balls are soft, and no physical contact is allowed, yet it still retains the fun and fast-paced nature of the game.

Sunol Glen staff and students are all excited about the new activity, and are looking forward to more practice. Fifth grader Eric Sanchez thought lacrosse was "a very fun sport."

"It takes a lot of practice to learn how to master the stick and to throw the ball. The history behind it is very interesting, too," says Sanchez. "My favorite part was when you get to field the ball and toss it to teammates. I can't wait to play some more!"

For more information on Sticks-2-Schools, visit their website at www.sticks2schools.org.


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