Youth lacrosse comes to Malibu

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Malibu head coach Steve O’Neill teaches the fundamentals of lacrosse at a recent clinic. Dick Dornan /TMT

The popular and quickly growing sport of lacrosse has come to Malibu. Youth leagues have cropped up in recent years in Thousand Oaks, Newbury Park, Pacific Palisades and the San Fernando Valley, and now Malibu is joining the trend.

The City of Malibu’s Parks and Recreation has partnered with LA Lacrosse to begin a youth lacrosse league at Malibu High School beginning in March. In the meantime, the Malibu Chapter of the LA Lacrosse League is offering a two-month clinic on Sundays in January from 2 – 4 p.m. at MHS. The program will begin with instruction of fundamentals and then progress to team practices and games.

Teams will be split up into four divisions: under-15, u-13, u-11 and u-nine. Team practices will be held each Sunday in February at the same time as the clinics. Games will be conducted from March through May with other leagues in the surrounding area.

“I’m just excited to bring lacrosse to Malibu,” said Charlie Meister, board president of LA Lacrosse. “It’s gone from club at the high school level to a community mentality. I am a transplanted New Yorker who brought the passion and love for the game out here.”

Meister’s devotion to lacrosse began as a teenager in New York alongside current Malibu High head varsity lacrosse coach, Steve O’Neill. In 1999 LA Lacrosse was founded, and kicked off its inaugural season in 2000. Meister volunteers his time raising awareness about the sport and teaching it to youth across Los Angeles.

“It’s like any other thing. You need to learn the fundamentals,” Meister said. “Any young kid can learn this sport. There is a position for everyone. I think this is great for the city of Malibu.”

Lacrosse is a very popular sport on the East Coast and it has rapidly made its way west. The California Interscholastic Federation sanctioned lacrosse as an official high school sport in 2004.

“It’s very important to have a good youth lacrosse program,” said O’Neill, who is in his second season coaching the varsity lacrosse team at MHS. “Since it’s numerically challenging in Malibu, you need a program that will feed the high school. Without a youth program, it’s tough to compete.”

The first clinic demonstration on January 8 attracted more than 30 young boys ranging in age from six to 13. Meister and O’Neill taught the fundamentals of throwing a lacrosse ball with the proper hand technique as well as scooping up ground balls utilizing the lacrosse stick.

But it’s the physical nature of the sport that has kids wide-eyed and eager to play.

“I like the competition in lacrosse,” said Bowen Brock, nine, a fourth-grader from Webster Elementary. “But I love the roughhousing.”

“It’s fun,” added Griffin McMillan, 13. “I love the contact and look forward to playing lacrosse with my friends.”

Lacrosse combines the physicality of hockey and football with the grace and style of basketball and soccer.

“It’s a very fun and dynamic game,” O’Neill said. “The kids love the contact part of it. For young boys there is a ‘warrior’ element to it because they wear all this gear.”

Any person interested in joining the lacrosse league may contact Katie Gallo at Malibu Parks and Recreation at kgallo@malibucity.org or 310.456.2489 x363.