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Eastern Maine Lacrosse looks to 'soar' after a year off

The Bangor-based youth program is looking to add more players after the 2020 spring lacrosse season was canceled. Official practices for this year begin in March.

BANGOR, Maine — In the Bangor Parks & Recreation gym Saturday, there were balls bouncing, but they weren't going through hoops.

Lacrosse balls were scattered around the hardwood for the first "unofficial" Eastern Maine Lacrosse practice. 

The youth program offers teams for boys and girls in grades three to eight. The Little Eagles are part of the Eastern Maine umbrella and offer teams for kids in kindergarten through second grade.

"It's all about growing the game," coach and board member Morgan Mazzei said.

Although she started as a parent with no knowledge of the game, Mazzei now spends the spring months with a stick in her hand as she helps coach the girl's teams and has a son playing with the boys.

"My husband and I played sports [growing up] and we realized very quickly that [lacrosse] is the most fun game we have ever seen played. I prefer watching it to just about anything," Mazzei added.

The Eagles, the mascot of Eastern Maine Lacrosse, were soaring in the program's first 10 seasons. Mazzei said altogether, more than 200 kids were wearing white and green uniforms in 2019.

2020 squashed any plans for the program's 11th season. The COVID-19 pandemic came to Maine in mid-March and soon after, forced the cancellation of all spring sports, including the hopes of any Eagles playing lacrosse last year.

Credit: NCM

With the hope of playing in games and tournaments this year, Mazzei and other coaches are getting to work early. After a quick indoor session Saturday, Mazzei said preseason practices will begin next month and are open to returning and new players.

"I am here to tell you even if you are 40 years old you can pick up a stick and play this game if you've got a couple of feet and a love of running and sport in general," she added.

Lacrosse is a newer sport to Maine. The game combines skills from other sports like hockey, soccer, and football. Eastern Maine Lacrosse competes against similar youth programs from southern Maine and New England.

Credit: NCM

Mazzei added the tournament schedule is still up in the air for this season as community safety guidelines will be looked at before anything is planned.

Along with the program's preseason practice schedule, Eastern Maine Lacrosse is offering free clinics on Saturdays during March. Mazzei says it's a great way for new players to see if they like the game.

"I'm pretty sure they'll fall in love with it," she added. 

Registration is now open for grades 3-8 and can be filled out on the Bangor Parks & Recs website.

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