Organization to bring low cost lacrosse league to Elizabethton

Published 8:32 am Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Contributed Photo/Polk Chandler  One athlete runs the ball downfield despite the sturdy defense of three players on the other team.

Contributed Photo/Polk Chandler
One athlete runs the ball downfield despite the sturdy defense of three players on the other team.

Youth interested in playing a sport that incorporates the techniques of soccer, hockey and football into one field sport are in luck. Registration is open for the Elizabethton Power lacrosse team, part of a growing league of the Northeast Tennessee Sports Association which seeks to make lacrosse affordable and accessible to youth between the ages of seven and 18.
“Our goal is to make it as financially attainable as possible,” said NTSA President Mark Bodo.
Through its equipment loan program, Bodo said they can fully equip 120 athletes and provide helmets, pads and sticks to 154.
“That a league is able to equip players is typically unheard of. Its an expensive sport,” he said, adding everyone involved is contributing time on a volunteer basis. “Our mission is to keep it as low-cost or no-cost as possible.”
In Greeneville, NTSA partners with the Boys and Girls Club to provide a scholarship program that covers the cost of registration and membership in U.S. Lacrosse.
“Essentially, with this, kids don’t have to pay anything,” Bodo explained. He said he hopes to form a similar partnership with the Elizabethton/Carter County Boys and Girls Club.
The league is private, ensuring continuity of regulations, standards of procedure and certification expectations for coaches. Bodo said this league allows kids to compete in a contact sport with clear safety measures and a zero tolerance policy on disrespectful behavior.
“Parents often comment on how awesome it is to come watch their kids play and to have such a relaxed environment. We also see parents sometimes rooting for both teams if there’s an awesome play, and it’s good to see that,” said Bodo.
Those interested may register online at by the middle of March, when the season will begin. Registration is $50 and registering with U.S. Lacrosse is $25. Full scholarships are available for some, but scholarships are limited at this time.
The league began in 2014 with 54 members, which tripled to 174 athletes last year in four cities, and with the addition of Elizabethton and Morristown, Bodo predicts a participation of more than 350 athletes this year.
A total of eight games will take place across the other four cities where the league has been established: Bristol, Greenville, Kingsport and Johnson City. Participants will practice twice weekly and have games on Saturdays.
All experience levels are welcome, and Bodo said they hope to host a free “try lacrosse” clinic to introduce beginners to the sport.
“Lacrosse combines multiple sports,” said Bodo. “Imagine the turf play of soccer with the speed and physicality of hockey and the ball movement of basketball, and that’s lacrosse. The concepts and skills learned here apply to and compliment other sports.”
The Association continues to expand its reach to community organizations and sponsors for both athletes and equipment. Bodo said they are currently working with an equipment supplier to get either discount or wholesale equipment. NTSA provides sticks and helmets, which Bodo said is the greatest expense, but some will need to purchase padding and gloves. Priority for the equipment loan program goes to children that qualify for free or reduced lunch through their school nutrition program, and then to first year team members and is then based on household income.
Additionally, Bodo said donors are encouraged to sponsor an athlete for $75 or to make a donation for equipment or facility rentals. All money donated will go to support kids’ needs, and Bodo emphasized that every adult participant helps on a volunteer basis.
“We’re doing it to improve the wellbeing of kids and because we love sports and want to help kids get involved,” he said.
In the future, he said he hopes high schools will adopt the program as a club sport to take it to the next level. He also said NTSA has plans to offer other free programs like RunJumpThrow, a day program that teaches track and field principles, or PACERS (Power Agility Coordination Endurance Response Speed), which is geared towards teaching those elements for all athletes. He said they also hope to host a free in-line hockey clinic to gauge interest in beginning a hockey league.

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