Described as “the fastest sport on two feet,” lacrosse is an action-packed, competitive game where, over the span of four quarters, players aggressively move a ball across the field with the help of ‘a lacrosse (net stick) to score successfully by shooting it into the opposing team’s goal. A spectator watching might, in fact, be reminiscent of soccer or football… or even hockey or basketball. This is because lacrosse holds the title of oldest organized sport in North America – so the truth is that these sports actually incorporate elements of lacrosse into their games.
In addition to the physical demands of speed, strength, and agility, lacrosse also requires finesse, spatial awareness, and superior hand-eye coordination.
Popular in the northeast and western United States, lacrosse is gaining ground in the south. And the Pine Belt is definitely in action, thanks to Hub City Lacrosse.
“The sport is incredibly fast,” said Andy Reese, head coach of Hub City Lacrosse. “Lacrosse has a general play pattern like football, with continuous transitions from one side of the pitch to the other and is played on a pitch with roughly the same dimensions. The sport is also similar to soccer and hockey, due to its physical nature – it is recommended to control another player with the body and / or the stick to try to dislodge the ball! In addition to the physical demands of speed, strength, and agility, lacrosse also requires finesse, spatial awareness, and superior hand-eye coordination.
Launched in 2018, the Hub City Lacrosse Club is open to all boys in grades 5 through 12 in the region. “We have local players from public schools, private schools, as well as home-schooled students,” said Reese, who volunteers in his coaching role with two assistant coaches. “The Catholic School of the Sacred Heart has sponsored us for the past three seasons, and I cannot thank them enough for allowing us to use their facilities. Hopefully, women’s lacrosse will be available soon, as interest grows and more coaches and coordinators come forward. Given the pace of growth in the sport, it is only a matter of time!
Currently, Hub City Lacrosse has three teams, which include fifth / sixth grade, seventh / eighth grade and high school. “Last year, teams played between six and 12 games, with the youngest group playing the least and the high school kids playing the most,” added Reese. “We played a mix of teams from Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Tennessee.”
As a competitive sport, lacrosse centers around skill, speed and strategy – all of which help build more than just muscle mass for these young athletes, but also instill a sense of responsibility and character. “Lacrosse is played with 10 players on the field at a time,” said Reese. “It takes teamwork and a lot of communication to play the game and be successful. ”
Reese shared that it was his two sons, who play on the seventh / eighth grade team, who encouraged him to start a lacrosse program at Hattiesburg. “They have been with me since day one,” he added. “Both saw the hard work and dedication that the sport requires and matured both physically and mentally through the experience. As a father it has been a wonderful experience to coach them and witness their development from the front row.
As a coach and father, Reese is hopeful that other parents will encourage their children to try the sport next season, which starts in February and ends in April. “Please don’t let the skill level or unfamiliarity of this new game deter your child from participating,” he said. “Most of our current players started from scratch, never having held a stick before. Our program is focused on the instruction and development of players.
Hub City Lacrosse hosts a “fall ball” every Sunday afternoon in October and November to refresh players and others interested in trying the sport.
Having watched the growth of lacrosse across the state, Reese is excited about the momentum and the future of the sport in the Pine Belt. “The growth of the sport in Mississippi has been crazy,” he added. “Three years ago we started with 16 players, none of whom had ever held a lacrosse stick before their first practice. Last year we had more than double that amount, enough to support three different teams. ”
Contact Coach Andy Reese at [email protected] for more information.