History of EPL
The Origins of EPL
Organized youth lacrosse came somewhat late to the eastside. Portland’s first programs to offer lacrosse were all west of the Willamette River. Eventually, a Grant youth team was formed, and then a team in southeast Portland. In 2005, EPL was formed, combining the two.
Charles Ducharme, Bill Small, and Jim Henry started the eastside program because they were tired of driving their boys across the river to play on the only youth teams in existence at the time. At that time, EPL was a boys' program only. EPL’s first coaches included Sean O'Neil, Jon Evertz, Pat Heins, Stuart Montgomery, Bob Hudlow and Damon Hess.
EPL added girls' teams in 2009 under the direction of board member and coaching director Amy Einstein. In 2010 Grant Youth Girls Lacrosse Club joined with EPL to make one large program. Early coaches included Meg Remsen, Paul Hekker, Allyson McKay, Kelsey McCarty, Paul O’Rourke, Helen McDevitt, Amy Chandler, and Carol Noonan.
EPL is the only youth lacrosse program to offer both boys and girls teams under one umbrella. Most clubs operate separately by gender, which makes EPL a unique program.
Initially, EPL only fielded teams for older aged elementary kids, but over time EPL added multiple teams of varying ages, 1st through 8th grade. Teams compete in a spring recreation league and 5th through 8th graders also compete in a “select” league concurrent to the spring season. In its early years, EPL struggled against the more-established programs and routinely lost most of its rec and select games and tournaments. But as the program and its players gained experience, EPL began to compete favorably against the best teams in the state.
Unlike most youth lacrosse programs feeding into one main high school, EPL feeds into multiple eastside high schools.The high school teams that EPL typically feeds into have grown in stature and improved in rankings as their recruits now arrive with years of lacrosse experience.
EPL has been led by four presidents since its inception in 2005. Jim Henry was the first EPL President, followed by Damon Hess and then Chris Merten. Keith Kroeger is the current EPL President.
In 2008 EPL had about 80 kids in the program. As of 2012, EPL had 280 players: 205 boys on 12 teams (10 rec and 2 select teams (5/6 and 7/8) and 75 girls on 4 rec teams (divided into gold, silver and bronze divisions). In 2018, EPL had grown to 397 players: 193 girls and 204 boys. Because of this explosive growth, EPL is one of the largest youth lacrosse leagues in the state of Oregon.