By Brad Fauber
Paul Kosubinsky has noticed a steady rise in the interest level of lacrosse in the area since Shenandoah Valley Youth Lacrosse was first formed back in 2009.
Participation within the league, which is open to children off all ages in the area spanning from Clarke County to Shenandoah County, has grown rapidly over the last few seasons, and the SVYL saw 150 kids compete in the organization last season.
Kosubinsky, the league president and coach of the SVYL's U13 Southern Division team, expects that number to rise again this season, and he has adjusted his recruiting strategy accordingly, beginning with this year's LAXFest.
The event, which will be held on February 16th from noon to 3 p.m. at the Sportsplex in Winchester, promises to be the most ambitious LAXFest yet.
"What's cool about that is we're working with coaches and players from Shenandoah University, as well as girls players and coaches from JMU," Kosubinsky said in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon. "We're going to have demonstrations for the kids.
"Basically its been kind of word of mouth in years past and we're making a big push for it this year."
LAXFest, a free event open to anyone interested in learning more about lacrosse, will feature several different demonstrations this year, including an opportunity for parents and players to interact with college coaches and players and discuss the sport.
There will also be four interactive stations where players can practice basic skills such as passing and catching, shooting, defending and how to properly execute a faceoff.
Kosubinsky said the SVYL will also hold several shooting competitions that test throwing power and accuracy during LAXFest, with prizes such as gift cards to Dick's Sporting Goods and customized lacrosse sticks being awarded to winners.
"We use LAXfest as an opportunity to spread the news about lacrosse and how it's the fastest growing sport in America," Kosubinsky said.
Kosubinsky said he expects as many as 200 to 250 players to participate in the SVYL this season, and he has also secured several grants to ensure that many of those players are provided with the proper equipment.
Through a partnership with U.S. Lacrosse, Kosubinsky has secured about $35,000 in grant money, he said, which is enough money to provide equipment to 100 players.
"U.S. Lacrosse has been a great sponsor. We have been able to secure three grants total through U.S. Lacrosse for gear and equipment," Kosubinsky said. "Each of those grants are worth $10,000-12,000 in sticks, gear and equipment.
"The great thing about that is that we can provide gear to our kids free of charge."
The SVYL, which begins its season on March 1, consists of two divisions: the Northern Division Vipers and the Southern Division Sabers. The Northern Division is comprised of boys and girls from Clarke and Frederick counties, as well as Winchester, while the Southern Division is made up of players from Shenandoah and Warren counties. Each division is further divided into different teams based on age and gender. Kosubinsky said each division will feature teams for U9, U11, U13, U15 and high school age groups for both boys and girls.
Kosubinsky is optimistic that the SVYL will have enough participation this year to have more than one team at each age level in the same division which will allow for more frequent matches closer to home, and he said he has also scheduled games with similar leagues from Charlottesville, Culpeper, Richmond, Martinsburg (W.Va.) and Hagerstown (Md.).
The SVYL will also compete with and against local private schools with lacrosse teams, and Massanutten Academy's lacrosse team will continue to partner with the Southern Division's high school-aged team.
Participation in the SVYL requires a registration fee of $85, according to Kosubinsky, and the first 100 player to register are guaranteed free equipment. Registration is open until March 1 and can be completed online or in person during LAXFest. A late registration period will also be open from March 1 through March 15.
For more information or to register online, visit the SVYL website at svyl.uslaxteams.com. League president Paul Kosubinsky can be reached at (703) 283-9506.
Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @BradFauberNVD