For the ninth year in a row, members of the mens lacrosse teams from John Hopkins University and Hofstra University came to South Forsyth High School to conduct a youth lacrosse clinic last week.
John Garrish, South Forsyth’s first-year boys coach, said it’s a privilege to host two well-known college programs. Although it’s not required for his team to attend the camp, Garrish certainly encouraged it. The event had 115 campers, which is up from 103 last year.
“The big thing we want to do is bring exposure to the sport,” Garrish said. “The second thing is to get the kids who are already playing lacrosse even better.”
The camp, which ran Thursday through Saturday, isn’t just for the players, though. John Hopkins associate head coach Bill Dwan and Hofstra head coach Seth Tierney are scheduled to meet with area high school and youth league coaches to discuss the sport’s latest strategies.
“I don’t know who all is attending, but I know a lot of people RSVP’d,” Garrish said. “It’s great for the sport to have them down here with us.”
Dwan and Tierney didn’t come alone. Both coaches brought a few of their current and recently graduated players. Hopkins group included leading scorer Zack Palmer, midfielder Mark Goodrich and First Team All-American defender Turker Durkin. Hofstra brought two-time lacrosse high school All-American goalie Chris Selva and 2011 All-American honorable mention faceoff specialist John Antoniades, who finished fifth in the nation in faceoff percentage.
Tierney said he can see definite improvement in the youth leagues from the first time he came to the camp.
“The kids in the South have the advantage of playing lacrosse all year round,” Tierney said. “You see how baseball teams have an advantage because there really isn’t a winter here and you would think that lacrosse in the South should have that same advantage.
“The kids are getting better and getting more familiar with the sport. I think some kids are putting [baseball] bats down to pick up a [lacrosse] stick.”
Selva, a rising sophomore at Hofstra and an All-American goalie, said this was the first time he had been to Forsyth County. He worked teaching proper goalie techniques to those who aspired to play the position and said the kids’ energy at the camp is unmatched.
“These guys show a lot of effort and excitement,” Selva said. “My goal for them is to just have fun. If they grow up loving the game, that’s great. They’re absorbing what I’m saying and really taking it in.”
Ryan Harkin, 12, said this is his second time attending the lacrosse camp, and he plans to come back again next year.
“I learned to turn my butt towards the goal before I shoot so I can get more power,” Harkin said. “I’m having a ton of fun. It’s an awesome camp.”
For the sixth straight year, ESPN covered every game of the men’s lacrosse championship, making a national audience more familiar with the sport.
Hopkins is the only school in the nation with a television contract for men’s lacrosse on ESPNU. With that deal, Dwan thinks the younger audience with grow up wanting to play lacrosse.
“Everyone is exposed to lacrosse if they watch ESPNU,” Dwan said. “We have people in the Caribbean watching it. [Lacrosse] is such an easy sport to pick up because you can translate skills that you’ve learned in other sports.
“It’s a sport that doesn’t stop. And that’s why I think kids like it.”