ZIP It: Loveland, Ohio 45140
by Mark Macyk | LaxMagazine.com
The lacrosse program in Loveland, Ohio, has a saying: "One team, one town, one tradition." The last line really stands out. Loveland lacrosse is rooted in tradition — a pretty remarkable accomplishment considering that just 10 years ago lacrosse did not exist in this Cincinnati suburb.
As US Lacrosse focuses efforts on providing training and resources for rising programs in southwestern Ohio, one of the sport's fastest-growing areas, Loveland has emerged as the region's gold standard. It annually hosts the Southwest Ohio Spring Lacrosse Kickoff, which has drawn lacrosse legends and NFL coaches to the town. Loveland High alumni have earned a presence in collegiate programs and the boys' team reached its first state final four in 2008.
The Southern Ohio Chapter of US Lacrosse serves Cincinnati and surrounding areas, accounting for 6,500 players in 2011, driving local adoption of US Lacrosse's national youth rules and hosting US Lacrosse Coaching Education Program clinics that yielded 60 Level 2-certified coaches in 2011.
New York native Michael Costonas has earned the moniker "The Grandfather of Loveland Lacrosse" for his role in introducing the sport to locals 10 years ago. Cotsonas had a vision for a lacrosse program based on the core philosophy of "Teach now, win later."
Today the Loveland Lacrosse Club boasts over 280 players and fields two teams at each age level. Cotsonas' philosophy endures. For instance, the youth program has no attackers or defenders, just lacrosse players.
"A high school coach may say, 'You're a great middie, but can you use a long pole?'" said Jeannie Clements, president of the Loveland Lacrosse Club. "Our philosophy is to teach the skills and teach lacrosse IQ — the knowledge that no matter where you go on the lacrosse field you can play."
And play any type of lacrosse. Loveland offers players the opportunity to participate in box leagues during winter and summer. In the spring, Loveland completed work on the first dedicated outdoor box lacrosse arena in the Midwest.
Embracing box lacrosse provides an introduction for new players and a venue for experienced players to refine their skills before stepping outside in the spring. Players from as far away as Dayton come to play in the box league.
Outsiders visiting Loveland has become another tradition. National Lacrosse League analyst Brian Shanahan spoke earlier this year, following in the footsteps of Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala, Brown's Lars Tiffany, Chief Brad Powless of the Onondaga Nation, and Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis.
Each echoed the most important thing for young players is education. Sounds like Loveland: Start with a solid foundation. Build from there.
"We're not just building lacrosse players," Clements said. "We're building responsible adults — kids learning to be respectful and learning to give back."
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