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Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Fun and fundamentals
Herald intern learns lacrosse with Town of Hempstead
Jess Rosen
Ron Manfredi/Herald
Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray tossed a ball with Rosen.

Long Island has long been considered a lacrosse hotbed, churning out successful collegiate players from high school programs throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties. I graduated from Lynbrook High School in 2010 and saw great players pass through the halls, cradling lacrosse sticks on their way to class. I remember wearing my friends’ home or away jerseys at big games. I enjoyed Lynbrook Lacrosse Day with the rest of my community.

But I never played the game. I play basketball, and have never picked up a lacrosse stick. After I graduated, I headed to a university in the Midwest — where lacrosse isn’t as popular — and didn’t think about the sport at all. Until last week.

On July 10, I headed to Edward J. Speno Memorial Park in East Meadow to check out the Town of Hempstead Lacrosse Academy, a summer program the town operates in its many parks. I was greeted by the camp director, Tim Murray, the brother of Town Supervisor Kate Murray, who gave me a tour of the clinic, where hundreds of kids were running around the fields in lacrosse gear. Murray pointed out each age group and gender, separated by field, detailing the different drills the kids were working on.

The four-day-long camp welcomes boys and girls ages 5 to 15. They play for two to three hours a day depending on their age, for a fee of $70 ($60 for 5- and 6-year-olds). “We preach fun and fundamentals,” Murray told me.

It definitely looked to me like the kids were having fun. On some fields they scrimmaged, while spectators cheered. On others they practiced stick skills and watched as coaches demonstrated proper technique. The young athletes listened intently to the instructors, who I quickly learned were the furthest thing from amateurs.

The camp is coached by high school and collegiate players and coaches. Some of the coaches were once campers themselves, and were coming full circle to teach what they’ve learned. As I watched the coaches interact with the children and heard their parents cheering on the sidelines, I realized that lacrosse is a community unto itself. The patterned shorts, the neon crew socks and cleats, and the pinnies are part of its culture.

Suddenly, I was jealous. I wanted to be a part of it.

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