Introducing Kids To Lacrosse As A Guest PE Teacher!

Roger Welton conducts lacrosse clinics for several PE classes in Viera, FL at the Viera Charter SchoolI had a great experience today having been invited to the Viera Charter School, a K-8 school school in my community of Viera Florida.  From 8:30 AM through 2 PM, with the support of the school’s PE teachers, I ran instructional clinics for class after class today.

Introducing the game of lacrosse to kids that have never experienced it before never ceases to be a source of enjoyment for me.  The newness of the experience almost always makes for a very attentive audience.  The smiles and clear expressions of triumph as they successfully complete skills speaks for itself.

For those of us that long ago experienced the draw of the game, it begins to sound cliche when we constantly say that the game sells itself, but it really is true, the game sells itself.  All one needs to do is take the time to introduce the sticks and concepts to the kids, and their interest is instantly piqued.  Throw in a few fun games and relays that bring some competition into the reinforcement of basic skills, and it seals the deal.

Roger Welton enjoying one of his favorite pastimes, teaching lacrosse to youth

The next challenge lies in the open mindedness of the parent to allow their child to participate in a sport that is unfamiliar to them.  Some may even view it as a threat to an existing more traditional sport that they prefer their child to participate in.  I believe that the age of the internet and all of the information that is now at our disposal to some degree, helps us that endeavor to grow the fame in drawing new families to lacrosse.  I know that if either of my children came home begging me to sign them up for something I have never heard of, before I would consider it, I would at least “Google” the activity to get more information.

In the case of lacrosse, a simple Google search provides pages of links about the game, from youth through high school, college and professional lacrosse.

I will be crossing my fingers and toes that the kids I won over today on on their desire to sign up for my spring 2017 youth lacrosse league, will be successful in either selling the sport to their parents, or at least make a big enough fuss that their parents will be unable to say no.

Regardless of the outcome, I feel great about how I spent my day today!

Dr. Roger Welton was a 4 year starter for Montclair State University and was selected as a First Team All Knickerbocker Conference Midfielder in 1995, 1996. He is the founder of the Viera-Suntree Lacrosse Club and Space Coast Elite Lacrosse Club in Brevard County, Florida.

 

Lacrosse Carpe Diem, Because These Moments Are More Fleeting Than You Will Ever Know

Montclair State Lacrosse Zach SchroeckPictured is one of two standout players from my Alma Mater, Montclair State University, Zach Schroeck (brother is Mickael Schroeck).  In an impressive 2015 16-2 season, Michael was named first team All Skyland Conference, while Zach was named its Rookie of the Year.  While I do not know these two fine players, seeing them in the uniform that I once donned in my own playing career; while approaching the close of my youth club’s current lacrosse season, it made me wonder if these guys and others living the dream of playing competitive lacrosse are really appreciating the opportunity they are in the midst of.

 To be sure, none of us really know when our playing careers will end.  For a few unfortunates, it may end early due to injury.  For most, it will end after their senior high school lacrosse season.  For a select few, it will end after college and for an even lesser select few, it will end at the end of a professional lacrosse career.

 I still enjoy playing in my Brevard County Lacrosse Men’s League, but as fun as that is, it does not compare to playing for my high school in the NJ State Championship tournament, or in college, playing for the East Coast Athletic Conference Championship.  In Men’s League, whether I play well or play poorly, my team wins or loses; beer and wings will be waiting after the game.  I will go home to my family, and life will go on unaffected regardless of the outcome.

 But in my high school and college playing days representing my school and community, during lacrosse season, nothing else really mattered.  The anticipation of big games and big moments was as much thrilling as it was at times terrifying.  The bond with my teammates, sharing the thrill of winning and the agony of defeat has no present day comparison.  In college, the long road trips and staying in hotels with my teammates were some of the most memorable moments of my life.  I feel truly blessed to have experienced all of what lacrosse gave me.

 Reflecting on all of this as our 2016 lacrosse season winds down to a close, I leave you with this famous quote from great Robin Williams movie, Dead Poets Society: “Carpe diem,” translated from Latin, “Seize the day.”  Savor every moment of your lacrosse playing experience as it is your last; as one day it will no longer be there.  Constant training and preparation will be replaced with meetings, deadlines, and commitments; working and paying bills.  Bonding with your teammates will be replaced with raising your family, possibly coaching your children and enjoying watching them live the dream that you once lived.

 Yes, you may play again as I do, but it will not compare to what lacrosse once meant to you.  So to all of you young men and women out there still living the lacrosse dream, carpe diem!  Hope you all had a memorable and fun season.

Dr. Roger Welton was a 4 year starter for Montclair State University and was selected as a First Team All Knickerbocker Conference Midfielder in 1995, 1996. He is the founder of the Viera-Suntree Lacrosse Club and Space Coast Elite Lacrosse Club in Brevard County, Florida.

Vipers Lacrosse!

vslc_vipers_logo…Continuation of “Rediscovering The Love Of The Game.”

Seeing something of a divine serendipity in the events described in my previous post above, I attended the meeting that would profoundly affect my life.  The meeting was for the small but committed Brevard Lacrosse Association (BLA), that at the time was a small league based in the beach side community of Satellite Beach, FL just over the causeway from my newly home town of Viera.  It was January, 2008 and my wife was pregnant with our first child.

The league was looking to expand beyond the beach and the dad that I had met in my neighborhood that was responsible for bringing me to the meeting, was charged with the expansion into mainland communities of Rockledge, Viera, and Melbourne.  We were to be called the Vipers.

So there we were, 3 divisions of lacrosse teams, U11, U13, and U15 boys only, with one other team to play, the Satellite Beach Riptide.  We played one another week in and week out, but the parents and players were so excited by the fresh, fast paced, new sport of lacrosse, that they did not care.  Without a child in the league, I was originally tasked with coaching the U11 division that was most lacking in coaching personnel, but with only one other coach in the league with playing experience, I floated around all of the divisions to aid in instruction.  It was a blast!

With a buzz in the air about lacrosse and kids and parents already seeking more varied and competitive play, the decision was made (despite my dissent) to disband BLA and start independent clubs that would play each other in an established Orlando based league.  At this point, a community called Merritt Island was also about to start their own lacrosse program, so the thought was that by disbanding and going independent, that other communities would follow suit and lacrosse would organically grow from there.  That is not how things played out, but for the purposes of this story, all you need to know is that the powers that be suggested that with the most extensive lacrosse background in the Viera community among active coaches, that I would the best candidate to serve as the first president of the Viera-Suntree Lacrosse Club, home of Vipers Lacrosse.

8 years later, I remain the first and only president of the club, now with an 8 year old son and a 6 year old daughter playing lacrosse.  To my point about how much that meeting would change my life, that original club has grown from 6 boys to 300 boys and girls playing lacrosse from K-8th grade projected to be playing Vipers Lacrosse this spring.  We now have both developmental rec teams and elite travel teams.

Within Vipers I personally coach U7 girls, U9 boys, U15 elite travel.  I also host regular camps and clinics for area high school programs and coach and elite high school fall and summer tournament team called the Space Coast Stingrays.

Oh yes, much has happened since that first BLA meeting and it seems I am still only just getting started!

Dr. Roger Welton was a 4 year starter for Montclair State University and was selected as a First Team All Knickerbocker Conference Midfielder in 1995, 1996. He is the founder of the Viera-Suntree Lacrosse Club and Space Coast Elite Lacrosse Club in Brevard County, Florida.

Rediscovering The Love Of The Game

Roger Welton Coaching U15 Boys Vipers Lacrosse 2010Not that I necessarily would have considered trying out for a professional Major League Lacrosse team, but the option did not even exist when I finished my college career in 1996 even if I had the ambition and/or the ability to go there.  The only profession lacrosse league at the time was the Canadian indoor National Lacrosse League.  Indoor lacrosse was fun, but most American players were more adept to the field game, so that career path did not really appeal to the vast majority of us.

As a result, for those of us that played college lacrosse even at a high level, once our eligibility was up we would reflect on a fulfilling experience in the sport we loved and move on the the next phase of our professional lives, which for 99% of us did not include lacrosse.  For me, it was to increase the hours I worked an an off campus veterinary hospital, enroll in post graduate courses to pad my GPA and academic resume, take the Graduate Record Exam, and begin the extensive veterinary school application process.

With the excitement of a future in a field of my dreams and the whirlwind of admissions interviews and making plans to pack up and begin veterinary school, it is amazing how quickly one can move on.  I can honestly say that I did not even think about lacrosse again until I was about to start my second year and I saw one of my classmates having a catch with lacrosse sticks.  Although I had already known this gentlemen for some time, we never compared notes about our lacrosse backgrounds.  Having been raised in Boca Raton, FL, my friend had attended and played lacrosse for St. Andrews private school.  I was amazed that I has not even picked up a stick in nearly two years, nor did I even think to bring my lax stick to vet school with me!

Still, even with the reminder and having a periodic throw around with my classmate through my vet school years, as I met my future wife in my fourth year, passed boards, and prepared my new life in New York with my new wife and my new career; lacrosse was but a fond memory and little more.  When my wife and I decided to sell our home and move to the warmth of the Florida Space Coast and purchase a veterinary hospital, not only was I not thinking about lacrosse, but I was moving to an area that had ZERO lacrosse!

As life started to get into a rhythm and my wife and I became more settled and made friends in our new community of Viera, Florida, the memories started surfacing again.  Not only was I reflecting on and really missing the game, I began to talk about it more, and with many in my new area not having been exposed to the game, people were genuinely interested.

One evening when I was hanging out with my yard neighbor, Brian, he commented on the evident love that he noted when I talked about lacrosse and suggested that I fulfill that passion though coaching.  I made a mental note that I would keep an eye out for coaching opportunities, but in an area without lacrosse, I did not see that possibility for the foreseeable future.

That weekend, on my way home from golfing driving in my golf cart, I saw a father and his 12 year old son having a lacrosse catch in their front yard.  I could not help but stop and inquire how they learned about lacrosse.  As it turned out, they were part of an effort on the beach side to start a youth lacrosse league.  He told me that they were badly in need of coaches that had real playing experience and that if I was interested, there was a planning meeting that week!

There was far too much coincidence for me to feel that the progression of the conversation with my friend, the chance meeting with a dad and son who was part of an effort to start lacrosse in an area that I moved to that previously had no lacrosse; for me to dismiss this as anything other than something that was meant to be.  I planned to attend that meeting which ultimately would change my life dramatically.

See my next article Vipers Lacrosse for the continuation of my rediscovering the love of the game!

Dr. Roger Welton was a 4 year starter for Montclair State University and was selected as a First Team All Knickerbocker Conference Midfielder in 1995, 1996.  He is the founder of the Viera-Suntree Lacrosse Club and Space Coast Elite Lacrosse Club in Brevard County, Florida.

 

 

Dr. Lax

Dr. Lax trying On His New Cascade CPX-RSo how did I get the nickname Dr. Lax?

The majority of the people in my community who know me associate me with the sport of lacrosse.  Having founded the Viera-Suntree [youth] Lacrosse Club in 2009 and recently the Space Coast Elite [high school] Lacrosse Club and usually being in the middle the majority of lacrosse events in my area, this is not surprising.

However, I do not not make my living in lacrosse, it is something I engage in for fun, for love of the game, and for the community.  I actually earn my living as a veterinarian.

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of having a gentleman named Tommy Jones join the coaching staff of the U9 boys team I was coaching.  Tommy is very clever and has a way with words, as well as tagging people with funny and unique nick names.  One day when I was running late to practice from work and showed up to practice in my scrubs, he called out to the parking lot, “Hey look, its Dr. Lax!”…and the name stuck from ever since.

I am sure I am not the only doctor of any kind to also have a passion for the game of lacrosse that may go by the name.  As such, I apologize to anyone who may share my nickname that may have come across it before I did.  But, I will state unequivocally that in the Florida Space Coast, I am the only Dr. Lax in the area.

Dr. Roger Welton was a 4 year starter for Montclair State University and was selected as a First Team All Knickerbocker Conference Midfielder in 1995, 1996. He is the founder of the Viera-Suntree Lacrosse Club and Space Coast Elite Lacrosse Club in Brevard County, Florida.

The Creator’s Game

Lacrosse Glory Days - Roger Welton, Arthur L Johnson Regional High School, Clark, NJ 1992
I was generally an above average athlete all of my life, but not great.  As time evolved and my physical development and athletic career played out approaching high school, this did not change in other sports pursuits, but something about lacrosse drew me in that drove me to put in the work and love necessary to be better that just above average.

That started with never going anywhere without my stick, even sleeping with it.  An absentminded kid prone to misplacing things, I never misplaced my stick.  I would walk around the house cradling, throwing fakes, and doing stick tricks, which unbeknownst to me at the time, would contribute to my comfort with a lacrosse stick.  By my freshman year of high school, to present day, I can honestly say that I can throw more accurately and comfortably with my lacrosse stick than I can my hand.

Growing up, I also fell in love with the sport of surfing, which I also still enjoy to this day.  While I was unable to do it often enough to get good enough to consider surfing competitively, I loved it nonetheless and still do.  Lacrosse on the other hand was at my disposal in the town I grew up in to take as far as I intended and had the ability to.  What is it that lacrosse and surfing have in common that drew me to each?

Life surfing that was invented by indigenous people of the South Pacific, lacrosse was invented and played by the indigenous Native Americans.  Like the Polynesians that viewed surfing as a divine gift from the gods, Native Americans originally called lacrosse the Creator’s Game.

This spiritual connection to each pursuit are part of what makes each special.  For Americans and Canadians who love the game of lacrosse and have the privilege of playing the Creator’s Game, we feel a deference and love for the Native Americans who played the game long before Europeans ever set foot here.

I dedicate this blog to the ancients that had the wisdom and sense to start the game, and to the Creator for the privilege and joy of playing it.

I hope you enjoy my new blog…I live and breathe the game of lacrosse!

Dr. Roger Welton was a 4 year starter for Montclair State University and was selected as a First Team All Knickerbocker Conference Midfielder in 1995, 1996. He is the founder of the Viera-Suntree Lacrosse Club and Space Coast Elite Lacrosse Club in Brevard County, Florida.