submitted by Nipmuc Youth Lacrosse
When Chris Hadfield was the girls’ varsity lacrosse coach at Nipmuc Regional High School, he vowed to build the program, and when he resigned last year to spend more time with his family, he swore he would finish what he started.
That quest brought Hadfield to the Nipmuc Lacrosse Association, the local youth program, which has seen its ranks grow since its inception in spring 2004 to include boys from U9 to U15, select teams, and winter play. Its girls’ program, however, was a different story. It had lost momentum to the point where it didn’t have the numbers to field a team last spring. With the board’s backing, Hadfield launched a player- and coach-recruitment campaign with remarkable success. Nipmuc Youth Lacrosse will field six girls’ teams this spring, training at least 87 players in age groups ranging from U9 to U15.
“I kept pushing. I wouldn’t take no for an answer,” Hadfield, a graduate of Nipmuc’s Class of ’02, said of his recruitment efforts. As the high school coach, Hadfield had watched secondary school programs in surrounding communities grow more and more competitive and had found limited success recruiting prospective players from the high school’s soccer and field hockey teams.
Hadfield, a father of two and owner of Next Step Sports Academy, credits strong support from the board and the efforts of “gung-ho” coaches with the campaign’s success.
“Chris did a tremendous job driving this effort with the girls,” said Eric Brockett, president of the lacrosse association and the boys’ varsity coach at Nipmuc. “The results speak to both his passion for youth sports and the incredible growth and popularity of lacrosse.”
Hadfield emphasized how important a youth program is as a feeder to strong high school teams. “It’s a difference-maker,” he said.
Last fall, an NCAA report named lacrosse the fastest-growing college sport in the United States, with a 109 percent increase in participation in the women’s game and a 95 percent jump in the men’s.