“I want every kid in Oakland to have access to play lacrosse,” Kevin Kelley, the boys game director for the Oakland Lacrosse Club, said. “My goal is to expose the sport to 500 middle schoolers and then in the spring create two under 13 teams; one boys and one girls.”
The Oakland Lacrosse Club will provide youth living in Oakland and attending public, charter or parochial schools with the opportunity to play the sport using P.E. classes and after school programs. This month, Kelley has started working twice a week with Claremont Middle School, in North Oakland, and plans to hold clinics next month with a host of other Oakland schools such as the Oakland Military Institute, Brewer Middle School and the Downtown Oakland YMCA.
“The plan is to have 25 kids in the spring for each team,” said Kelley, who also is a lacrosse coach at the University of California, Berkeley, and Oakland Tech High School. “You need 18-20 healthy players to have a functional team. Typically, a P.E. class has 50 kids to a class. To get 50 kids who have never touched the sport … that’s a great start.”
Although the club just formed this month, for the past couple of years, awareness and interest for the sport has moderately increased. In the spring of 2009, a varsity boys lacrosse team was formed at Skyline High School. That same year, work was started to create a boys Junior Varsity and a girls team at Oakland Tech High School.
“Lacrosse is a spring sport and it takes about a year to launch a program and team,” Nora Mitchell, the executive director at the Northern California Junior Lacrosse Association, said. “The lacrosse programs at both Skyline and Oakland Tech High School have been hugely successful. Kids get better grades by playing lacrosse. They are motivated and work hard. That’s why I got involved, because I know how positively it can affect them.”