Today, I happened upon a girls’ Lacrosse game as I drove by the Middle School near my house. The school has a football field and a track, so I am used to seeing kids out there during the school week, folks of all kinds walking the track when the kids aren’t using it and people using the field for sporting events. I wrote about my experience with Flag Football last month, and as of the publishing of this article, “Dem Boyz” are first in their league!
Today’s games were all-girls’ Lacrosse. As I walked up to find someone “official” to speak with, I heard a lot of laughter and teasing from the girls that were playing. That made me smile. I know that playing sports helps girls’ self-esteem and also helps them expand their social circles.
According to ESPN and the Women’s’ Sports Association, studies show that playing sports increased girls’ confidence, body image, academic performance and personal relationships. That’s pretty awesome in this crazy world of COVID, girls telling other girls to “just go kill yourself,” at the slightest perceived infraction on social media and dealing with silly girl stuff, like rumors.
I say “silly” because it all happened to me when I was a kid (Except social media. All I had was a telephone), and it would sometimes temporarily ruin my world. Now that I’m an adult, I see how ridiculous (and mean) this stuff is. So, it was really nice to see smiles and laughter instead of cruelty.
Chandler Ferguson, who is the father of 6th grade player, Ryleigh, explained to me what makes these games different from school or sponsored leagues.
“For this league, you just show up and play. Basically, you show up and get assigned white or blue,” Ferguson explained. “If one team is [obviously] better than another, they’ll reassign kids so they can get a wider range of play. We don’t keep score; I mean, the coaches kind of know what the score is. I call them, ‘Coach,’ but they’re really there to kind of make sure the field is even, so they’ll move players around, so the game is competitive in its own right,” Ferguson added.
“The girls don’t seem to care what the score is anyway. They’re just out there to have fun. Look around and you won’t see scoreboards or anything,” Ferguson added. “I think a lot of the girls know each other, so it’s a social activity in that sense. They can come out here and play with their friends.
“It’s been great for my daughter because she can watch the older girls play. She’s said, ‘They can do this, so I can try to do it too.’ She has individual lessons with Faith and plays on a Club Team, she plays out here and she plays for Grapevine MP, too.
“I coach the Mustang-Panther Girls Youth Team. (K-8th) We have teams for different age groups: K-2, then a 3-4, then a 5 – 6 team and a 7-8 team,” Ferguson explained.
The program is called, “Just Play Lax,” and is the brainchild of Faith Renner and her partner, Chris. Last year (2020) was their inaugural year.
“We just wanted to give the kids in North Texas an additional opportunity for playing girls’ Lacrosse. The only opportunities really are the school and town teams, but it’s not a UIL sport yet. We wanted them to have a way to play that wasn’t focused on instruction or critiquing but focused more on letting them just play.
“I think the need was there, and so when you start something to meet that need, people will take advantage of it.
Faith said they really didn’t even have to advertise, as word of mouth brought girls and their parents out to see what it’s like to have a laid-back game or two.
According to the website, Just Play Lax offers a, “7 vs. 7 playing opportunity for girls. With just 12 total field players (plus 2 goalies) in a 30-yard x 65-yard playing area, each player will receive maximum touches on the ball. More repetitions in a game setting means more opportunity for development and more opportunity to try new moves. Players will be more willing to be creative and less afraid to make mistakes – a perfect combination to improve your game and prepare for the spring season.”
No matter what the mission is or who the players are, it was very nice to hear encouragement instead of criticism, laughter instead of anger or tears and proud moms and dads who are super-supportive of their daughters.