Jamaica Lacrosse's Growth Providing Model for Nations Around the World

COURTEST OF JAMAICA LACROSSE

Select coaches from local high schools took part in a Level 1 clinic from July 24-27.


It wasn’t long ago that Kevin Dugan was handing out fliers for Jamaica Lacrosse’s summer camp in Kingston. He’d head to the local print shop, pick up 2,000 fliers to hand out, and try to raise awareness for a new sport on the Caribbean Island.

Through Fields of Growth, Dugan began a grassroots movement for lacrosse in Jamaica in 2012. It started small, but with the help of Calbert Hutchinson, Jamaica Lacrosse president, and a structure was put in place to boost growth, the sport started picking up steam.

This year. Dugan’s five-week summer camp attracted 260 participants from schools all over Kingston. Children from all classes and economic statuses flocked to the camp, some coming each of the four days per week.

“We didn't have to market the camp, at all,” Dugan said. “In the past, we would just be handing out fliers all over Kingston. … Then, I’d have to take paper registration and manually enter it into excel.  This year, we just sent WhatsApp messages in the group of teams that had lacrosse, with the link to online registration.”

It’s just one sign of the exponential growth of lacrosse in Jamaica, a country with a rich sporting background. Dugan and Hutchinson have been hard at work for the past five years, laying the groundwork for lacrosse to grow from the youth level up to adults.

Just this year, in addition to the successful summer camp, Jamaica Lacrosse implemented a Level 1 instructional coaching clinic based off of US Lacrosse Guidelines and named a national team head coach, Errol Wilson, ahead of the 2018 FIL World Championships. All part of the five-year strategic development plan set forth by Hutchinson, Jamaica Lacrosse’s growth could be a beacon of hope for other countries trying to grow the game.

“I honestly think Jamaica is the template for what all these countries in the world should be doing,” Dugan said. “All of these places are different and you need to be culturally appropriate. … In all my interactions in different places of the world, Jamaica has become a really good benchmark.”

 







As outlined in its development plan, Jamaica Lacrosse will continue to grow from its youth and high school ranks. High school participation has increased from four boys teams and two girls teams in 2016 to eight boys teams and six girls teams in 2017.

Dugan said that with more students having access to smartphones, building interest in teams at local high schools and organizing practices and games has been much easier. Students and coaches are using WhatsApp and other group messaging apps to communicate with one another.

With so much growth at the high school level, Dugan said he has noticed a few players that he believes could play collegiately in the United States. He’s starting to tackle questions like “ how do we film these kids?” and “how do we start letting college coaches know about it?”

It’s a good problem to have, with the interest and skill level at its height in Jamaica. However, with more involvement, the need for coaching increases. That's why Dugan felt it was necessary to conduct a Level 1 clinic in Kingston.

Select coaches — one from each school participating in lacrosse — were chosen to take part in the clinic from July 24-27. Dugan took the US Lacrosse Level 1 guidelines and adapted them to the 7v7 game played in Jamaica, and put them to practice with the group of coaches. 

For Hutchinson and Dugan, it’s all about the “transfer of knowledge.” The more coaches that can be educated about the game, the faster the players will learn the basic skills and develop.

“If we want to see the continuation of what we started, knowledge is power,” Hutchinson said. Not everyone is willing to pass on that knowledge.”

Hutchinson, though, is happy to now have a Jamaican national team coach in Wilson, who has coached at Brown, Lehigh and Rutgers. The hope is that Wilson will continue the progress made with new coaches in Kingston and beyond. 

But his focus, of course, will be on building Jamaica’s first World Cup team. Wilson, the former goalie at Stony Brook whose mother emigrated from Jamaica’s St. Mary’s Parish to the United States in 1983, said he initially reached out to Jamaica Lacrosse intending to play, but he’s happy to land as a coach.

“This was an opportunity to represent my mom and our culture and to represent people who look like me,” Wilson said. “It’s really cool. … It’s great to be there, but it’s important to put a stamp down and my name on it the right way.”

Wilson will oversee national team tryouts first at Lehigh — for the “diaspora” players that come from outside of Jamaica — then in Kingston in January. It’s the next step in the progression of lacrosse in a country that was introduced to it just a short time ago.

“We have seen tremendous development, especially on the local field in Jamaica,” Hutchinson said. “… It’s amazing how persons of like mind and interest, both in Jamaica and in the U.S., coming together and getting everything done.”

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