Full Speed Ahead
Although the hotbed of lacrosse has long been the East Coast, the sport has been steadily gaining popularity on this side of the country for several years now. In an effort to provide the Carlsbad community with a place to learn and play lacrosse, the Barnett and Evans families formed Carlsbad Youth Lacrosse (CYL) in 2007. Since then CYL has grown rapidly from a single team for seventh and eighth grade boys to multiple teams for both boys and girls of all skills and ages. Unique for many reasons, lacrosse is known for being a fast-paced, action-packed team sport that allows all players the chance to be a part of the game. In this same spirit CYL is committed to the growth of Carlsbad’s young athletes by providing high-quality coaching and instruction in an environment where all players are encouraged to develop their skills and work together as a team. We sit down with CYL President and Head Coach Chris Scheriff to get the scoop on what makes the upcoming season of lacrosse so exciting.
Q&A with CYL President and Head Coach Chris Scheriff
What is the history behind the Carlsbad Youth Lacrosse program?
Carlsbad Youth Lacrosse (CYL) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that was established in 2007 by the Barnett and Evans families in order to provide kids in Carlsbad with a place to learn and play lacrosse. The goal when starting the program was to get kids playing lacrosse at a younger age so they would be more experienced by the time they got to play in high school. The program was started with a D1 team for seventh and eighth graders and grew over the first few years, adding on a D3 team for fifth and sixth graders. I was the varsity lacrosse coach at Carlsbad High School (CHS) from 2008 to 2010 and took over as president and head coach of CYL in 2011. That year we expanded to add on seventh and eighth grade and fifth and sixth grade B teams in order to feed the A teams the following year. With the popularity of the sport growing rapidly, in 2014 CYL added on two boys pee-wee teams, which included teams for first, second, third, and fourth graders, as well as the first-ever CYL girls team for sixth to eighth grade girls. CYL is dedicated to providing great coaching and a fun lacrosse experience for all of its players.
How are teams formed to ensure they are balanced appropriately?
We have one team for each pee-wee age group and for the girls sixth through eighth grade team, so anyone who wants to play lacrosse in those categories is placed on those teams. For the fifth through sixth and seventh through eighth grade boys teams, there is an A team for experienced lacrosse players and a B team for kids who are just starting out or who are younger and need more opportunity to develop their skills and understanding of the game.
What is the timeline for CYL’s recreational season? Where are games played?
CYL hosts preseason clinics usually starting in December through the beginning of February until the regular season starts in mid-February. The regular spring season runs through the end of May depending on the age group. Games usually start the second week of March and each team will have one or two games a week. Our home field is at Valley Middle School on Tamarack Ave., and we play away games all around San Diego, with the majority of games held in North County within 20 to 30 minutes of Carlsbad.
At-a-Glance | Carlsbad Youth Lacrosse
Name: Carlsbad Youth Lacrosse
Registration Dates: Registration open through Feb. 15 with early registration discounts prior to Jan. 1
Season Starts: Feb. 15
Mission Statement: Our mission is to provide young athletes an opportunity to learn, participate, and compete within a structured league environment. Our staff is committed to developing character, teamwork, and respect for the game through a high level of coaching and instruction. We support the growth of the sport in Carlsbad and throughout San Diego by providing an environment for players to learn, discover, and embrace the lacrosse experience.
Tell us about the experience and background of the coaches of CYL.
All of our CYL coaches are US Lacrosse members who have played and/or coached lacrosse at the high school varsity level. Many of them have played at the collegiate level as well.
How does CYL ensure that its players are progressing in skill level and growing as athletes?
Our main goal as coaches is to help develop the skill level of each of our athletes throughout the season. We do preseason assessments and work with each individual either during or after practice to make sure they know what they need to improve on in order to get better. We also provide them with instructional videos and written playbooks to help educate them off the field.
What is the mission of Carlsbad Youth Lacrosse and how does the organization go about fulfilling this mission?
Our mission is to provide young athletes an opportunity to learn, participate, and compete within a structured league environment. Our staff is committed to developing character, teamwork, and respect for the game through a high level of coaching and instruction. We support the growth of the sport in Carlsbad and throughout San Diego by providing an environment for players to learn, discover, and embrace the lacrosse experience.
The sport of lacrosse has been steadily gaining popularity in the community at large. For those who aren’t familiar with the sport, what makes it so unique?
Lacrosse is known as the fastest game on two feet. It is a very fast-paced, action-packed contact sport where all players get a chance to touch the ball and be part of the play. I have coached a lot of first-time lacrosse players and after their first day playing lacrosse they all have the same reaction: they absolutely love it and can’t wait to play more. That’s what gets us coaches excited about coaching this sport.
“We support the growth of the sport in Carlsbad and throughout San Diego by providing an environment for players to learn, discover, and embrace the lacrosse experience.”
What is your background or personal experience in the sport of lacrosse? What do you enjoy most about the game?
I grew up playing lacrosse in Long Island, NY, which is one of the hot beds of lacrosse in this country. I played at the varsity level at East Islip High School and then went to Towson University in Baltimore, MD which has one of the top D1 lacrosse programs in the country. I graduated with a degree in physical education and later became a certified personal trainer with the intention of coaching lacrosse at the varsity level. After coaching the Carlsbad High School varsity team for several years, I made the move to take over the CYL program in order to develop the sport of lacrosse at a younger age in Carlsbad.
I have loved watching the sport grow in California over the last decade that I have lived here. One of my favorite things about coaching is watching kids learn and get better at the sport, which makes them perpetually fall in love with lacrosse. Although I love coaching, nothing is more fun than playing this game and scoring a great goal or making a great defensive play. I still get to do that once in a while when playing in some of the men’s leagues around San Diego.
At-a-Glance | Carlsbad Youth Lacrosse Representative
Name: Chris Scheriff
Education: Bachelor’s Degree, Towson University
Family: Husband and father of two. I have a four-year-old son and two-year-old daughter, and a dog whose favorite sport is lacrosse.
Hobbies and Interests: Playing all sports, but mainly lacrosse and soccer. Surfing, running, snowboarding, and spending time with my family and friends.
What do you enjoy most about your involvement with CYL?
I really enjoy watching the sport grow and being a part of the development of the CYL programs and players. The CHS varsity team won its first CIF championship a couple of years ago with a lot of former CYL players on the team. It’s very rewarding to see all of the hard work of the coaches and players pay off with something like a championship, especially since it was the first one in school’s history for lacrosse. We also had our first undefeated season with our first and second grade pee-wee team last year, which is a great sign for the future of Carlsbad lacrosse. The excitement on the players’ faces and the love that they develop for the sport makes it all worth the time and effort that all of us coaches and board members put in to the program.
What are some of the challenges that the program faces?
The two biggest challenges that the program faces are fields and coaches. There is very limited field space in Carlsbad, which means we have to compete with the bigger sports like football, baseball, and soccer to be able to have practices and games. This limits our off-season development of the sport, which is very important for the development of our players. We have also been trying to get turf fields to play games and have some practices, but due to field availability and cost we have only been able to use grass fields which need a lot of work. We have a core group of coaches each year but with the program growing so fast it can be difficult to find two quality coaches for every team. Since lacrosse is a relatively new sport on the West Coast, there are not a lot of coaches available. We are always looking for new coaches with experience to help grow our program. Along with those two main challenges, fundraising is our next biggest obstacle since the funds we raise can really help with paying for nicer fields and more coaches. Donations and fundraising are very important to run a quality youth sports program, especially while keeping it affordable for everyone to play.
Does CYL hold any fundraisers or special events throughout the year?
CYL is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization so we rely heavily on fundraisers and donations to help keep registration costs low for kids to play lacrosse in Carlsbad. We typically have three or four restaurant nights at local restaurants in Carlsbad to help raise money. We also have an annual garage sale and ask parents and local businesses for donations to help us buy new lacrosse equipment for our teams. CYL also hosts several events to help spread the word about youth lacrosse in Carlsbad. We have hosted clinics for the City of Carlsbad, Pop Warner Football, and free beginner clinics to help introduce young athletes in Carlsbad to the sport of lacrosse.
“…After their first day playing lacrosse they all have the same reaction: they absolutely love it and can’t wait to play more.”
Does the organization have a need for volunteers? If so, how does one get involved?
We are always looking for volunteers to help grow and improve our organization. We need volunteers to help with things like coaching, field maintenance, fundraising support, and so much more. If someone is interested in volunteering for CYL they can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know how they can help out.
Is there anything else you’d like for our readers to know?
For anyone who isn’t familiar with lacrosse and is interested in learning more there is some great information about the sport on our website at www.carlsbadlacrosse.com. We can also be reached at email@example.com to answer any questions. I would highly encourage everyone to watch a lacrosse game live at one of the local high schools in the spring. For anyone interested in getting their child involved in CYL visit our website and sign up for our emailing list to get all of the latest information.