By Stephen London
Lacrosse is as much a part of Maryland as crab cakes and football. Maryland has more than 48,000 youths participating in lacrosse programs, making this the No. 1 state for the fastest-growing sport in America.
"When I moved here from New England, the lacrosse culture was apparent," said Jay Dyer, the strength and conditioning coach for Johns Hopkins University's men's team and director of sports performance for Union Memorial Sports Medicine. Dyer has trained some of the best to come out of Hopkins, including Paul Rabil and Shawn Nadelen.
It is clear that Maryland, with six teams in Lacrosse Magazine's 2011 season-ending high school top 25, has a prevalent lacrosse subculture that always leads back to Baltimore. The Lacrosse Hall of Fame and US Lacrosse are located here, and many NCAA Final Fours have been held in the state.
Whether it is the Maryland culture or the trainers keeping the local players on their game, the growth is nationwide. A 2010 US Lacrosse participation study found that youth lacrosse had a 159.8 percent growth rate since 2001.
"It's just a good sport," Rob Slade of S3 training said. "Lacrosse is gaining popularity because people who have played the sport in the youth and high school stages will turn on or go to a college or professional lacrosse game."
Last November, Major League Lacrosse signed a new television contract with CBS Sports Network to add 14 live games to its present schedule of six on ESPN2. Also in the deal with CBS, the MLL will have 18 editions of a weekly show titled "Inside the MLL."
"The sport combines different aspects of other sports," Dyer said. "The physicality of the sport is comparable to football."
Lacrosse also incorporates elements such as endurance from soccer and creativity and teamwork from basketball. Regardless of why lacrosse has become such a popular sport, the training for Dyer's athletes stays the same.
"Training is about analyzing the athlete," Dyer said, "as well as the sport they play, and catering to those skill sets."
Considering lacrosse season is only in the spring, training consists of more than one sport. Slade, who trains and teaches across all age groups and abilities, said when training or teaching younger players, it was all about developing affection for the sport. There may be a number of contributing factors to the growth of lacrosse, but these two trainers are cultivating young players to love the sport, while maintaining the skill focus to reach full potential.
More Front Row:
• Soccer Standout Takes Coaching Skills To Central America
• One Love Foundation Soars Beyond Goals
• Studies Show Lacrosse Is On Growth Binge
• Dogged Legislators Made Lacrosse Official Sport
• Mike Bordick Welcomes New Orioles Role
• Annual Plunge Raised $2.5 Million In 16th Year
• From The Cheap Seats
Issue 170: February 2012