New Canaan Youth Lacrosse

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Fact Sheet – New Canaan Lacrosse Association
January 2012
Since its founding in 1978, the New Canaan Lacrosse Association has enriched the lives of thousands of local youth by giving them the opportunity to play the wonderful team sport of lacrosse.
Early organizers included community leaders like David Cochran Sr, David Pflug, Jack Reese and Tom Towers Sr.  In the early years, NCLA was organized to provide New Canaan boys in middle school the opportunity to play lacrosse in an instructional youth program.  Tony Tscanos, Dick VanHastern and Howard Benedict worked to formalize the program in the early 1980's.  The program expanded to include younger grades through 8th grade.  By the mid 1980’s, Joan Burnap joined the organization and led an expansion to include a 5th-8th grade Girls Lacrosse Program.
In 1990, NCLA was a founding member of the Connecticut New York Youth Lacrosse Association (known as CONNY).  CONNY was formed to promote the game of Lacrosse in a safe and sportsmanlike environment.  The Association brought together Boys Lacrosse Programs from Fairfield and Westchester Counties. 
As the NCLA Boys Lacrosse program grew through the 1990’s, so did the Girls program.  By 1997, Rick Boland expanded the Girl’s program to include Bantams in 1st through 4th grades.  At this point, NCLA served all New Canaan youth, both boys and girls, in 1st through 8th grades.
In 1998, the US Lacrosse organization was formed to act as the national governing body of men’s and women’s lacrosse in the United States, primarily serving the youth game. 
By the year 2000, NCLA’s youth lacrosse program had grown large enough to formalize the positions of a President along with a Vice President of Boys and a Vice President of Girls.  With Tom Albertson as President at the time, Rick Boland served as the first VP of Girls until he became President of NCLA in 2006.  Since that point, Warren Tuttle took over the leadership of the Girls program as VP until 2008.  Leo Karl III served as VP of Girls from 2009-2011 and recently turned over the role to Kimberly Connors, current VP of Girls Lacrosse.  There has been a steady and natural progression of leadership in NCLA.
Run by volunteers and funded by donations and small fees, the NCLA has grown its programs continually and today serves nearly 1,000 children.  Some facts:
  • Growth in program participation from 2001-2011:
  • 85% increase, from 496 players to 919 players.
  • Boys: +76%, from 304 to 535 players.
  • Girls: +100%, from 192 to 384 players. 
  • Boys/Girls representation in the league:
  • Girls: 34-42%, 34% in 2002, 42% in 2011.
  • Boys: 58-66%, 66% in 2002, 58% in 2011.
The NCLA takes the matter of gender equality in sports and safety very seriously. It has been a leader in working toward more consistent and standardized rules of play, referee certification and coaches’ training.
In an effort to better organize and provide more consistent coaching, NCLA Girls published its first 'Coach’s Manual' in 2008, the same year that NCLA began hiring outside paid coaches to lead our 7th and 8th grade girls. 
The leadership of NCLA Girls Lacrosse helped to form the first CONNY Girl's Division.  Since its formation in 2010, CONNY Girls has had a dramatic and positive effect on the consistency of rules interpretation and game play from town to town; the depth and consistency of referee training; and the overall level of coaches training in the area.

In an effort to grow the local pool of qualified youth coaches, NCLA hosted the first local US Lacrosse Level 1 Coaches’ Certification Class held at NCHS in the fall of 2010.  Over 85 Youth Boys and Girls Coaches, 25 from New Canaan, attended this training.
Each team – both boys and girls - at each grade level gets a comparable amount of practice and game time. Furthermore, as the girls program has expanded rapidly over the last two years, NCLA has worked extensively with the town of New Canaan to find more field space for the program overall.  The girls program has been the primary beneficiary of the additional field time.

NCLA was one of the major donors to help fund a brand new turf field, with lights. During the lacrosse season this field is assigned predominantly to the girls program. 
The league is a member in good standing of U.S. Lacrosse, the Connecticut Chapter of U.S. Lacrosse and CONNY Lacrosse. As a best practice, NCLA applies the most stringent safety rules of each organization to its rules of play, including required equipment. 

Coaches are trained to ensure that participants are not allowed on the field without the proper equipment.

The league provides goalie equipment and medical kits to each team - boys or girls.  All other protective equipment is the responsibility of the participants.

Boys and Girls Lacrosse are fundamentally different sports – requiring different equipment, playing by different rules, different field markings, and different playing philosophy.  As recently as October 30, 2011, US Lacrosse issued a Position Statement on Boys’ and Girls’ Youth Lacrosse Participation Recommendations.  NCLA fully supports this position statement and has posted a copy on our website.
NCLA is a member of the Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) and has held seminars for its Board Members, Coaches, and parents within the NCLA Community over the past five years.  This spring, NCLA looks forward to hosting another series of PCA seminars and plans include opening them up to any New Canaan resident with an interest in any youth sport.

In a June 2013 article, the New England Lacrosse Journal dubbed New Canaan 'LaxTown' due to the long-term success of both New Canaan High School's program and the NCLA Youth Program that feeds it.  LINK TO ARTICLE.