MILTON — In a month’s time, Milton’s youngest residents should be seen running all over the town fields, smiling widely and learning teamwork.
Like Milton Little League, Milton Youth Lacrosse plans to begin it’s spring season at the end of April, program co-chair Seth Harlow said.
“The spring sports last year all had to be canceled due to COVID, which was certainly disappointing for all the kids and the coaches as well,” he said.
Harlow, who has been a co-chair of the organization for almost two years, is looking forward to returning to the game this year.
“I love watching the sport being played, and I'm learning something everytime we go out on the practice field or the game field,” he said.
Harlow’s co-chairs are Randy Alemy and Trevor Wagar, who is also the head coach of the Milton High School varsity lacrosse team.
Here’s what to know about this year’s youth season.
1. Registration is open at miltonlax.org until the end of April.
Kids in grades 1-8 are eligible to participate in Milton’s youth lacrosse program. Teams are based on grade level, rather than ability, Harlow said.
The organization’s Learn to Play program, which started in 2007, is also open to new registrants.
“Learn to Play is for younger kids to learn the sport,” Harlow said. “It's a fun atmosphere, where we teach the fundamentals first, like throwing the ball and passing the ball.”
Learn to Play combines learning the essential mechanics of the sport with fun games, like Sharks and Minnows, which teaches kids how to run and pass with the stick safely.
Learn to Play is open to boys in grades K-2 and to girls in grades 1-4.
“We definitely would like to encourage more girls to register,” Harlow said. “We don't have as much participation on the girls’ side, and we actually combine the fifth through eighth grade U15 team with Fairfax's because they have low registration numbers as well.”
2. COVID protocols and mitigation measures are still in the works, but masks will most likely still need to be worn by players, coaches and fans.
The Northern Vermont Youth Lacrosse League (NVTYLL), of which Milton is a part, is holding an organizational meeting this week to discuss the shape and scope of the 2021 season.
On March 30, the Vermont Agency of Education released guidance regarding the spring season for high school sports.
According to the guidance, face coverings are still a requirement for all players, coaches, officials, staff and spectators at all times. High school games are limited to 150 spectators, though schools can limit that number further if they so choose.
Harlow expects the guidance for youth sports to be similar, especially in regard to mask-wearing.
“We're optimistic,” Harlow said. “We’re going to have a season and we’re going to be able to to run it with whatever guidelines are put in place.”
3. Early season practices will be devoted to learning and refreshing skills that might have been lost during the off-season.
Harlow expects time will need to be spent teaching mechanics that were either missed out on last season or became a bit rusty during the year spent away from the field.
“There will be a little bit of a steeper learning curve obviously from grade level to grade level, just in terms of some skills that they didn't get to learn in practice last year,” he said.
In the past, Milton Youth Lacrosse has held a few indoor clinics during the late winter to get ahead on skill development, but this year of course, those weren’t able to occur.
“Without the clinics, it will take a little bit more time to get going this year,” Harlow said. “But that’s okay. The very first thing we do is work on the fundamentals of passing and catching. Even as you get up into the higher grade levels, that's something that's still, still focused on to ensure there’s a good base.”