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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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The team huddles with the kids who attended the clinic PHOTO: MITCHELL SHIELDS ’22/THE HAWK
St. Joe’s lacrosse hosts youth clinic and alumni game

 

The St. Joe’s men’s lacrosse program saw different generations of lacrosse players hone their skills on Sweeney Field on Oct. 2.

During the first half of the day from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., the team offered a clinic for children in kindergarten through eighth grade. According to men’s lacrosse head coach, Taylor Wray, the core of the clinic is simple skill work and teaching the basics in creative ways. 

“I think it’s important to get a good foundation of fundamental skills early,” Wray said. “Lacrosse is a game that’s almost hard to play until you have some of the basics. But once you’ve built those basic skills, there’s so many things that you can do.”

Among those essentials is the skill of picking up ground balls. According to senior face-off specialist Zach Cole, who owns the St. Joe’s program record for career ground balls, it’s important that youth players pick up the ball with the proper technique.

“We’re just making sure that they’re running through the ball full speed and squatting down in a good position to pick up the ball,” Cole said.

First grader Niall Jordan, who started playing lacrosse last spring, was a participant at the clinic. His father, Ian Jordan, said Niall is drawn to lacrosse because of the sport’s community and the enthusiasm that surrounds events like the clinic.

“It’s been great to see the energy that the team has brought to helping these kids learn more about the game,” Ian Jordan said.

Following the clinic, the current St. Joe’s lacrosse team played a scrimmage against alumni of the program in hopes that the youth that participated in the clinic would watch the game. The alumni team was made up of 21 players who graduated between 2016 and 2021, including 11 former all-conference selections. Coaching the alumni team was Thomas Helm ’21 and former team captains Pat Sinnott ’12 and Will Farrell ’15. 

Wray said that the team’s alumni network has been instrumental to the team’s success on and off the field. 

“They set the foundation for where the program is today and where it hopes to be in the years to come,” Wray said. “They’re a big part of our family and as big a part of our program as anyone.”

According to Wray, the alumni have served as mentors for players on the team. They have hosted Zoom calls in which they talk to the current student athletes about their careers, and have been especially helpful in developing a professional network to help current athletes find internship and job opportunities.

“I’ve reached out to a couple of alumni who have pushed me in the right direction in trying to find an internship or job for the upcoming summer,” Cole said.

On the field, however, it was the current Hawks who taught their mentors a thing or two. Though Cole said that the alumni team perennially “brings the juice” for the game, the 2021 Hawks handily defeated the former Hawks 16-7. 

Regardless, Wray said that the entire program was able to draw inspiration from the camaraderie amongst the alums. 

“Watching them rehash stories about their experience at St. Joe’s, it’s energizing for me and the rest of my staff, but also for the players on the team,” Wray said.

For Cole, the day as a whole embodied a chance to grow the sport and immerse the youth in a hard-working atmosphere.

“To see them feel rewarded by coming and working, and then staying and watching the alumni game is awesome to see,” Cole said.

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