By ROBERT LINNEHAN | The Haddonfield Sun
Young athletes in Haddonfield will have a chance to pick up their helmets and lacrosse sticks next spring.
For the first time in Haddonfield, an organized youth lacrosse league will offer kids in the borough a chance to play the sport. The league will be for first- through third-graders and will start in the spring.
Most kids have to go to nearby Cherry Hill and play in a lacrosse league, resident and overall lacrosse fan Steve Halla said.
Halla — co-founder of the lacrosse league along with resident Dave Ragone — has lived the sport his whole life. Growing up on lacrosse, he played for his varsity high school team in Maryland and at Randolph Macon College in Virginia. He’s been involved in lacrosse for the past 34 years.
Halla is also the men’s lacrosse coach for the La Salle Explorers.
“As much as I love this sport, sometimes you can get clouded by that and not know if there is any true interest when you want to start a league. I can tell you that there is more interest than you can imagine in Haddonfield,” Halla said. “We offered a free clinic on May 16 this year, and there were over 80 youth participants that were out there on the field with us. That was a huge turnout for a town of our size. It was far beyond our wildest expectations.”
The goal of the league will be to serve as a feeder program for the Haddonfield Memorial High School lacrosse program, Halla said, much like the other youth sports prepare athletes.
Every year, he said, the league will try to expand and offer other divisions for athletes in other grades.
“It will grow by one grade level by each of the next five years until we go from first to eighth grade and the feeder program is finished,” he said. “There is nothing else in town for youth lacrosse. We’ve been lucky to have been mentored and work with the Cherry Hill youth lacrosse program as well. I’ve been involved with them for the past four years. They’ve been very kind to allow our players to register in their program, they’ve learned a lot. Now comes the time that we have to support our own program.”
Halla said he has been in close contact with HMHS Athletic Director Lefty Banos and Recreation Committee Chairman Robert Bickel to devise time and field space for the league. In Haddonfield it’s often challenging to find the necessary space for practice and games because the youth athletic programs are so popular, he said.
“The expectation is for this program to be very successful. We’ll have to maintain teams, and use outside field space as well as we can,” he said. “My commitment is to the growth of this sport in town.”
Registration will begin this fall, Halla said.
For more information on the new league and when it will begin, he advised interested athletes to visit the league’s Web site at leaguelineup.com/haddonfieldlax.