Nease High School hosted its annual lacrosse summer camp July 11-14, in its latest attempt to grow the sport locally.
The camp has been going on since Max Gurowski took over as head boys lacrosse coach in 2016.
“It’s really great, because we have our high school guys our here as our coaches,” Gurowski said. “They love it.”
Even though the camp is only one week, the relationships developed between the current high schoolers and the younger camp participants are vital to helping teach the game.
Participants of all ages took part in the camp, from first graders to incoming high school freshmen with an array of varying skill levels.
“It’s important when it (advice) comes from them, because it really makes it stick,” Gurowski said. “Any team that’s player-led is that much more special.”
According to Gurowski, developing relationships between current and future players is the first step in fostering a strong culture within a program, as the foundation is laid by those currently, while the future generation aspires to one day maintain or better it.
As with most typical summer camps, much of the focus deals with working on fundamentals.
“We started with practicing passing, catching and ground ball work and advanced to more competition and elevating levels from 1-on-1 to 2-on-2 and 3-on-3,” Gurowski said. “No matter how long you’ve been playing, everyone can always find ways to get better.”
One of the things that Gurowski is most proud of about the camp, is the way that it brings together past and future generations of the Nease lacrosse program.
Ashton Wood, who graduated from Nease in 2018 and plays at Mercer University, worked with campers during a faceoff competition one day.
“He’s one of the top faceoff guys in the country,” Gurowski said. “It’s great to have him come back and get involved.”
Even if former players were not able to stop by and assist with the camp in person, they were still able to contribute and give back to their former program in multiple ways.
Another example of giving back included Matt Leighty, who graduated Nease in 2009 and played at Johns Hopkins University, donating some of his former equipment to be used by campers who had not played lacrosse before and did not already have the necessary equipment.
“As soon as kids try it, they love it,” Gurowski said. “It’s all about making sure they have that opportunity.”
It is hard for him to choose one thing that makes lacrosse such an amazing sport to play, but he believes the fact that it is so difficult to narrow it down to just one thing is also what makes it so unique.
“It’s similar to basketball of offensive and defensive strategy and tactics with the physicality of football, the endurance of soccer, and the hand-eye coordination of baseball,” Gurowski said.
Being around so many children with boundless energy for the game has made Gurowski stop and reminisce about what it was like when he was their age and first introduced to the sport.
“It’s hard to explain,” Gurowski said. “It truly is a medicine game brought to us by Native Americans who played it as a spiritual game. Some of my best memories growing up are of simply playing catch in the front yard.”