Graphic: Jeremy Garcia
When the US Box Lacrosse Association (USBOXLA) was first established in 2010, many clubs that became members were groups run by a Canadian.
In fact, the first three youth programs to join USBOXLA were all led by Canucks: Denver Elite by Matt Brown (Burnaby, British Columbia), the Cali*Lax ALL-STARS by Shaydon Santos (Whitby, Ontario), and the Stealth Academy (in Everett, Washington at the time) by Lewis Ratcliff (Victoria, British Columbia).
While USBOXLA has a strong Canadian contingent running member clubs in the US still today (Aimé Caines, Ben Prepchuk, Kevin Crowley, Ryan Ward, etc.), American-born club directors and coaches are joining the association at an amplified rate these days.
Better yet, these programs aren’t always in cities you’d expect box to be. Like say Memphis, Tennessee for example.
Collin Welsh was born in Baltimore, not Burnaby. He played his collegiate lacrosse at Stony Brook University and Mount St. Mary’s University in the early 2000s. Those rosters were almost exclusively made up of kids from New York or Maryland. Rhys Duch didn’t show up to Stony Brook until after Welsh transferred, so it’s not as if any Canadian teammates were selling him on the skills the indoor version of the sport could supply him.
Unlike most on his collegiate teammates, Welsh didn’t fall in love with field lacrosse and then accidently stumbled (or never stumble) his way into box. It was quite the opposite in fact. “When I was 12-years-old my spring sport was still baseball, not lacrosse,” said Welsh. “I went to a Baltimore Thunder game against the Philadelphia Wings in the MILL. I was just blown away by the action. I wanted to immediately start playing lacrosse.
“That spring I started playing field lacrosse and fell in love with the sport, but it was box lacrosse that sparked my interest and will always be my preferred way to play and watch the sport.”
Now living in Memphis, Welsh founded 901 Lacrosse earlier this year, a program that offers nothing but USBOXLA sanctioned box lacrosse to its players. “I am very excited about this new opportunity to bring proper box lacrosse to Greater Memphis,” said Welsh. “The hope is to provide a positive addition to off-season lacrosse in the area.”
Welsh feels that by becoming a USBOXLA member, he’ll be able to provide his program with the right environment to teach the sport the way it was intended to be played; the same way Brown grew up playing box lacrosse in Burnaby, Santos in Whitby, and Ratcliff in Victoria.
“By becoming a USBOXLA member, we are able to ensure that all of our coaches and referees are properly certified so that the game is both taught and represented the correct way,” said Welsh. “Box lacrosse is a physical game, but USBOXLA has created a rules platform that allows players to gain all the benefits box lacrosse provides while playing in the safest environment possible.”
Will local youth feel the same way as Welsh? In short, yup!
In recent weeks, Welsh has opened registration for upcoming 901 youth leagues (grade 8/9 and grade 10/11). How’d that go? Keep scrolling…
Welsh does not want to take players away from their current field training, but does want to offer an additional training outlet through box lacrosse. In addition to the already sold out fall leagues, 901 will also offer summer box leagues and field a select travel team that will compete in a winter tournament and potentially the 2018 USBOXLA Nationals.
“My goal is to grow box lacrosse at the grassroots level in an effort to help players further develop both their skills and their passion for the sport indoors and outdoors,” added Welsh. “I believe the more kids that are playing the sport in an environment where both fundamentals and creativity are coached and encouraged, the better every player will be.
“I believe that USBOXLA provides that opportunity.”
For more information on 901 Lacrosse in Memphis visit 901lacrosse.com.