Teammates work to bring lacrosse Cityside
Most of the local lacrosse community is familiar with Drew Snider and Chris O’Dougherty. (If not, you can start learning here and here.) They are two of the most popular role-model type players who have come on to coach in the Puget Sound area. Follow either one of them to any local lacrosse event and count how many fist-bumps and high-fives that they get from the youth players, you’ll be impressed. This high school season, O’Dougherty was named Washington Coach of the Year, and Snider coached his Nathan Hale Raiders to the Division II State Championship. But to top it off, they’re both successful professional players and teammates with the Washington Stealth and Denver Outlaws. They’re two of the biggest ambassadors of lacrosse in the state of Washington.
But it’s not enough.
Now Snider and O’Dougherty are bringing their passion to the city. They’ve teamed up to form CitySideLax, a group dedicated to the helping the rapid growth of Seattle’s youth lacrosse. “We’ve been fortunate enough to have a big impact on the field and now we’d like to have just as big of an impact in our local community,” said O’Dougherty.
“Seattle lacrosse players have been getting the short end of the stick forever,” explained Snider, his face lighting up as he spoke. “The average Seattle lacrosse player has nowhere in the city to go to get better, to learn more about the game, or just to play.”
CitySideLax is looking to provide year-around camps, clinics and lessons to Seattle-based lacrosse players. “No longer will kids have to travel at the Plateau just to find instruction,” pointed out O’Dougherty, “that takes a three hour chunk out of a family’s day just to have a lesson. We want to be sensitive to the in-town families and helping their kids.”
Their first events are a couple of weeklong camps this month for Middle School-ers and youth. You can find out more info and register here. Additionally, they’ve got individual and group lessons available. Coaches won’t be left out, as CitySideLax will offer clinics that will help those volunteers better coach their players. “We’ve got to raise the level of coaching if we’re going to create players who can play after high school,” said Snider, “Lacrosse IQ is so important in college lacrosse, and that begins with great coaching at the youth level.” CitySideLax also hopes to start fall leagues in 2013, both for youth and high school teams. As O’Dougherty points out, “City players are at a big disadvantage in the fall, having to travel to the Eastside just to play an hour-long game. If we can get them offseason practice and games here in town, we can raise Seattle lacrosse to a higher level.”
As teammates for the Outlaws, they’ve witnessed firsthand the growth of the game in the city of Denver. The acknowledged hotbed of lacrosse west of the Mississippi, the area has exploded with youth teams, strong high school programs and NCAA Division 1 players. “Seattle is already poised to become the West Coast’s hotbed,” shared Snider, “We want to take the things we’ve seen and learned there, as a part of that growth, to help make Seattle the next Denver.”
While both O’Dougherty and Snider live in the city, it’s Drew that grew up here and has developed a passion for the urban laxer. He played at Garfield High School before his days at University of Maryland, leading the Bulldogs in their halcyon days, and racking up All-State and All-American honors in both 2005 and 2006. “The power in high school lacrosse is shifting out of the city,” Snider laments, “and CitySideLax is going to stop that trend by providing urban resources to grow the game.” O’Dougherty, having moved to the area in 2009, brings an urban, New Jersey vibe to the game. “In New Jersey, it’s all about getting kids the resources for lacrosse that have traditionally been available for other sports. There’s only so many fields, so much time, and so much school administration. Lacrosse can get shoved out of the way by more established sports.”
This year’s Division II Championship game provided a glimpse of how powerful Seattle lacrosse can be. Garfield faced Nathan Hale in the finals and the stands at Memorial Stadium, in the shadow of the Space Needle, were rocking and rolling. “The fans for that game were the loudest of the day,” said O’Dougherty, “it was great to see two local student bodies so excited for a game of lacrosse against their natural in-city rivals. That’s the type of energy we want at all levels of Seattle lacrosse.”
“Lacrosse was a life-changer for Chris and me,” offered Snider, “neither of us would be where we are today without people reaching out and providing opportunities while we were learning the game. Lacrosse isn’t for everyone, but everyone should have a chance to excel if they want to. That’s what we want to provide to the kids of Seattle.”
Checkout CitySideLax.com for more info.
Pictures from Snider’s Raider’s Championship win are here.
O’Dougherty’s Eastlake Wolves had a good playoff run as well, view the pictures here.