By Ben Sataloff
This Saturday, January 19, I was lucky enough to witness the introduction of the program that is Cradle Lacrosse to Chicago. For those unaware, Cradle is a six week induction into to the sport of lacrosse, designed for co-ed youths age 4-8. The Philadelphia founded program aims to keep newcomers to the sport active and excited while subtly infusing the basics of the game, including proper stick handling, basic ground ball technique, and throwing form in a fast paced environment that keeps participants engaged.
The gym-class attitude adopted by Cradle proved to be both fun and efficient. Each new skill set learned was accompanied by a game that focused on applying the newly acquired ability, meaning that the doldrum that is route learning was entirely avoided. Screaming and laughing, the players enjoyed such games as “Need one; Got one,” a game designed for practicing ground ball and communication skills, though it looked like anything but your typical practice drill. The amorphous mass of children appeared unaware that they were indeed learning.
An hour and several games later, the group was called in by coaches Colin Ambler and Kyle McGuire, who reiterated the lessons taught. Exhausted but attentive, the group listened to what they had accomplished, as well as what they would accomplish over the next few weeks, before huddling up, cheering “Cradle!” and walking glassy-eyed, tired and smiling back to their parents.
The truth of the matter is, Illinois lacrosse is growing exponentially. Only a few schools away from being able to hold State Championships at the High School level, the coming years could prove vital towards the state’s wider recognition on a national scale. With programs like Cradle introducing our youth to proper fundamentals at such an influential age, garnering excitement and skill, this new generation of Illinois athletes will be exciting indeed to watch.
For more information on Cradle Chicago, please visit http://cradlelacrosse.com/programs/northbrook_winter_one/