NHS Lacrosse Coaches And Players Prepare Younger Athletes For Next Level
The girls were out on the turf at Treadwell Park and the boys on the back field grass at Newtown High School. The objective was the same: to learn the fundamentals as well as some advanced skills and be active at lacrosse camps in late June and early July.
Coaches and players, as well as former Newtown High lacrosse athletes, representing both the NHS girls’ and boys’ squads worked with elementary and middle school players for a few hours of drills, games, and fun in the sun each day of their respective sessions. The girls’ camp took place in the final week of June, and the boys got to work (and play) right after the Fourth of July.
The youngest and lesser-experienced campers were taught the basics and those with more seasons of game play and practice under their belts learned some advanced techniques at the Nighthawks Girls’ Lacrosse Camp and Boys’ Lacrosse Camp with Coach Scott Bulkley.
Lou Santoli, an assistant coach with the NHS girls, worked with up-and-coming players at Treadwell and said the laid-back environment at summer camp gives players at a variety of levels the opportunity to build skills without worrying about roster spots or playing time.
“I think you can be loose,” Santoli said. “Loose is fast and you can be better when you’re loose. Lacrosse is a lot of repetition, a lot of practice. We can work in some fun — some ice pops and stuff — in a no-pressure environment.”
Fundamentals, such as shooting and passing, and developing lacrosse IQ were emphasized for the young players who followed the lead of student-athletes helping out on camp days.
“The counselors have been fantastic and I know the little girls look up to them,” Santoli said.
Allie Bradley, who will be a senior in the fall, helped out at the camp for her second year. “It’s really fun. They’re a really funny group,” Bradley said. “Throwing and catching is really important for them so they can learn dodging and shooting when they’re older.”
Bella Gerace, also a rising senior and two-year camp counselor, said: “It’s really fun. It’s good to work with the younger girls and try to help them be prepared for high school.”
“Just seeing them have fun and grow to love the sport is really fulfilling,” counselor and NHS junior-to-be Jules Battaglia added.
Although some of the campers will join their counselors at the high school, a majority will not yet be at NHS or be on the varsity sideline before the counselors graduate.
“They’re not going to play with most of these girls but they still want the program to succeed and get better,” Santoli said.
“Keeping a stick in the hand, increasing lacrosse IQ, and promoting Newtown lacrosse,” were the main objectives of Bulkley at his camp.
There was fun to be had, too, with Camper of the Day and other awards, as well as end-of-day fun, including a long pass relay race.
All areas of lacrosse were covered: stickwork, shooting, defense, goaltending, and face-offs. The boys were suited up with their lacrosse helmets, mouth pieces, elbow pads, gloves, and shoulder pads for drills and activities.
Bulkley noted that the younger players got to interact and connect with high school players they will see on the Blue & Gold Stadium turf in the fall. The counselors/high school and former NHS players get a lot out of this experience as well.
Both of Bulkley’s children, Brooke and Jake, are players at NHS and each was a counselor at camp, with Brooke helping out at Treadwell.
“It’s fun. You get to bond with some of the younger kids coming up to the high school,” Jake Bulkley said.
“It’s a great time being able to spread my knowledge with the little kids and put a smile on their faces through lacrosse,” said Colin Breslin, a recent Newtown High graduate, who is headed to East Carolina University in Greenville, S.C., and hopes to play club lacrosse.
Sports Editor Andy Hutchison can be reached at email@example.com.