DETROIT – On a beautiful summer day in Clark Park, the ice rink minus the ice was getting a lot of action.
There are sticks involved, but this isn’t hockey.
“What we’re teaching here at Clark Park is box lacrosse,” Lacrosse Head Coach Liam McIlroy said. “It’s very popular with our neighbors (in Canada). It’s a mainstay in how they program with their youth. It’s five-on-five like hockey; everyone uses short sticks. Both boys and girls can play.”
“When I came home to the city, I chose to really invest in trying to grow community lacrosse programs because they were nonexistent as of about four years ago,” McIlroy said.
McIlroy helped start a youth program on the city’s east side a few years ago, and now he’s in Southwest Detroit doing the same thing.
Right now, it’s only a few kids with hopes of more signing up soon.
“We are posting signs at Honeybee Market and putting out lawn signs,” McIlroy said.
The Cass Tech lacrosse athletes help to coach and bring in new faces.
“I’m here to grow the game in my community to grow the game in Southwest Detroit,” said Salvador Sanchez. “I didn’t have the chance to play the game until high school. There are few programs in the Detroit area for younger kids.”
“It wasn’t until high school I learned about lacrosse,” said Ydaly Jimenez. “Once I played, I found it’s a great community, and I wanted to share with my family.”
That’s how nine-year-old Katy Caceres found the program.
Her brother plays at Cass Tech.
“I like how you use this and throw it,” said Caceres.
The program is all about learning the basics clearly—those who’ve come to try the sport like it a lot. The hope is the word will spread in Southwest Detroit and all over the city that lacrosse is for everybody.
“I would like to go against another high school in this community and have the community rivalry,” Jimenez said. “Right now, we play against people far away. I’d like to play against people that look like me too.”
The program needs gently used equipment and donations. Contact the Clark Park Coalition by clicking here if you’d like to help or sign your kids up for the program on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Or click here to contact coach McIlroy for more information.