2018 Changes for 5/6 & 7/8 Boys
Updated information: 2/16/2018
All players are required to attend the March 3rd and March 5th player clinics. This is an opportunity for coaches to meet the players and to run through a myriad of drills to prepare for the season. During those two days, coaches will be evaluating each player to assess their skills which is designed to help EPL with team formation.
Location: Delta Park
Date and Times: March 3rd, Noon to 2:00 PM. March 5th, 6:00 PM to 8:00
Please arrive 15 minutes early and ready to go with all equipment on.
Players will be notified of their team placement by March 7th. If your son is unable to make one of these dates please let us know ahead of time or if you have any questions about the upcoming season, please contact Ryan Lanigan, EPL's Boys Director at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(From email sent on 11/17/2017)
This is a lengthy and detailed communication with very important information about this coming 2018 spring season for boys and how teams will be formed. We encourage you to read carefully and ask questions as they may arise. There is a great deal of planning and careful considerations that goes into team formation, coach selection, scheduling, and (practice and home game) field procurement. It deserves mentioning that EPL is the largest youth lacrosse program in the state with over 400 kids (boys and girls) playing lacrosse for EPL in the spring. Last spring we fielded 26 teams total.
Oregon Youth Lacrosse Association (Boys lacrosse) is moving to an A/B/C model based on experience and skill at the 5/6 & 7/8 grade levels.
Teams will play other teams in their level (i.e. B teams will only play other B teams).
EPL will hold tryouts and evaluations in the beginning of the season which will help form our teams.
Emphasis on practices during the week with games mostly reserved for weekends.
EPL believes this approach enhances player safety and development while improving the overall experience.
Preparing for this spring!
With spring registration opening soon, we wanted to let you know about some changes that are taking place in 2018 for youth lacrosse. The Oregon Youth Lacrosse Association (OYLA), the governing body of boys youth lacrosse in the state, has adopted some structural changes on how clubs can form teams and schedule against other clubs in the area. For many years now, OYLA required clubs to form "balanced" teams that consisted of a mixture of both experienced and new players on the same team. The premise for this structure was to prevent clubs from "stacking" teams with only skilled, experienced players. As youth lacrosse has grown, so has the level of competition, especially at the 5/6 and 7/8th grade levels. Lacrosse has become a year-round sport and the talent has risen tremendously in the last 5 years. Many clubs, like EPL, are fielding players with 6+ years of lacrosse by the time they reach 7/8th grade. However, there are still many clubs that struggle to field one team at each grade level and consist of many players with less than 2 years' experience at the 7/8th grade level. As a result, many games are lopsided wins in the favor of the more skilled teams even though they are technically "balanced." OYLA is adopting changes to improve the overall player experience.
What are the changes?
Based on input and feedback from participating clubs, OYLA will be implementing a simple A/B/C model for boys in the way teams are formed. This model is the exact same as the girls youth model referred to as Gold/Silver/Bronze. Here is basically how the A/B/C model teams are defined.
A - Considered the most competitive, fielding a team of the most skilled players. This essentially becomes the select teams we have formed in the past.
B - Considered to be teams competing with a healthy mix of experienced and less experienced players.
C - Considered to be teams competing with mostly newer/beginner-type players.
Why are these changes happening?
The main objective why OYLA has adopted this structure is to focus on player development and safety. Players will develop faster when they are able to compete vs. like competition. That applies to practices as well as games. At the 7/8th grade level middle school boys are going through multiple physical changes. When a team of skilled players with size and speed are competing against smaller, less skilled players this scenario can create unbalanced and unsafe conditions in a contact sport. This new model is designed to focus on the beginner as much as it does the skilled the player. What I really like about this change is that I hope this removes the stigma from kids wanting to join EPL but are afraid to because they never played before and feel as if they are not good enough to play with other players who have been playing lacrosse. This new model will allow for us to place these first time players on a team to play with and against like-skilled players. The only apparent downside to this change is kids potentially being placed on a team that their friend(s) is/are not on due to differing skill levels. This is a reality and we recognize that many kids play sports because their friends do and want to be together. However, we are attentive to player development at every skill level and we feel that this new model approach will provide the best overall experience for the individual player.
With this change, clubs are free to self-select what model of teams they want to form depending on overall player numbers and the ability to form more than one team. So at the 5/6 level, EPL, for example, could form one A team, 2 B teams and 1 C team. Each year EPL grows with new players wanting to try lacrosse. Some of these players excel quickly and others take time to develop. In the A/B/C model, EPL can place these players on a team that best suits their ability to develop in a fun and safe environment without being discouraged by competing against players with years of experience. When it comes time to schedule games, EPL will schedule games for our teams with other clubs forming teams of same levels (i.e., B teams can only schedule against B teams from other clubs). While it's not a perfect system, the expectation is that games will be more competitive based on equal skills, all participating players will thrive, and players will be encouraged to continue playing lacrosse season after season.
How will EPL be creating the 5/6 and 7/8 teams next spring?
At the beginning of the season, EPL will first hold tryouts for the A teams at 5/6 and 7/8. Once these teams are formed, we will then conduct player evaluations for the non-A team players. The purpose of the player evaluations will be to assess how many teams we can form at the B and/or C model. We will form teams based on player evaluations and attempt to match players to their closest geographical location. However, with a club this size and limited field and coach availability we cannot always place players close to where they live. For example, if we form one C team at the 5/6 grade level, that team will likely only practice in the SE (or NE). We hope to communicate to everyone where practices will be held and what nights for each of the three models, A/B/C, before tryouts/evaluations. We explain this to you now because it is difficult and time consuming to perform the evaluations, place players on teams, and schedule games, only to have players withdraw from the program after teams are made. When players quit or request to be on a different team the art of team balancing and limiting team rosters is lost and disruptive.
Practice and Game scheduling
We plan on scheduling practices on the same nights for each of the two grade levels. For example, all of the 5/6 teams (we anticipate up to four teams total) will practice on the same two nights per week. This will allow for players to potentially move up (or down) on teams without disrupting the weeknight practice schedule. What this also means is that if your son plays another spring sport in addition to EPL and these practice nights conflict, there will be no ability to change to another EPL team practicing on a different weeknight.
We are also adopting a change in how we schedule games (this decision is not dictated by OYLA). OYLA has allowed clubs to inform their schedulers when teams are available to host games on weeknights and/or weekends. OYLA then schedules individual games, home and away, based on input by all clubs. EPL will attempt to schedule games on weekends only in the spring. We recognize that there may be a weeknight game or two due to unforeseen scheduling conditions, but our mission is to play Saturdays and some Sundays. Our main focus is on player development and we feel that practices take precedent over games. This will also allow for a consistent practice schedule, 2 per week on the same days, without games interrupting during the week.
As a reminder, the structure for the 1/2 and 3/4 teams are unchanged from years past. We will continue to balance each team to the best of our ability.
As this is the first year of this new structure, we ask for your patience and understanding. We would love to hear your feedback at any point during the season too.
Should you have any questions or concerns, please feel to reach out to me, Keith Kroeger, President (email@example.com) and/or Ryan Lanigan, Boys Coaching Director (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Thank you and have a safe Holiday season!