PORTLAND, Maine — Editor's note: Chris Costa has volunteered with Back Bay Lacrosse as a coach from 2017 to 2019, and again starting in 2022.
Portland's youth lacrosse program is holding a free clinic on Saturday to introduce the sport to kids who have never played before in hopes of boosting participation.
Kids do not need to bring any equipment to the "learn to play" clinic.
Back Bay Lacrosse, the nonprofit that organizes the sport for kids from second grade to eighth grade, reports anecdotally that the number of kids interested in playing has dropped over the last few years.
Board member David Beriau said if the trend continues, Portland and Deering High Schools could struggle to field a varsity team.
The game has been around for centuries, and most Northeast states are known for producing talented players. Beriau said Maine is behind that curve, and that the sport is still in the "growing phase."
The sport is also expensive due to all the gear required to play: helmets, shoulder pads, elbow pads, gloves, a stick, cleats, and more. Beriau said Back Bay Lacrosse has grants from Dick's Sporting Goods and the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office to purchase some equipment, but they need more to reduce the barriers to entry.
"[We want to] make it affordable for kids to try without any extra pressure for parents," Beriau said. "If they're able to just grab a stick, run around, and try it out, have some fun, it'll be a great time."
The clinic goes from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday at the Maine Athletic Complex on Riverside Street. It is free. Volunteers are holding clinics for both boys and girls. You can sign up at www.backbaylax.com.