A Way of Life: How a Coach in the Heartland Fell in Love with Lacrosse

This article appears in the Southwest version of the November edition of US Lacrosse Magazine. Don’t get the mag? Join US Lacrosse today to start your subscription.

Broken Arrow, a nascent high school boys’ lacrosse club in Oklahoma, received a US Lacrosse First Stick Program grant in 2017. Just one year later, the program is poised to make its varsity debut in the Heartland Lacrosse League.

Tim LaBelle, US Lacrosse’s regional manager for the Southwest, caught up with coach Jason Nichols, who led BA in its inaugural season at the junior varsity level — and who lives with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Describe the history of the Broken Arrow program.

Indian Nations Youth Sports took over a very small Tulsa youth program and expanded it to school-named teams in spring 2014. This program serves K-8. Also in 2014, high schools started breaking off into their own club teams.  Broken Arrow is the last of the large schools in this area to form a team. Until spring 2018, Broken Arrow players fed into the Tulsa club team.  A small group of rising freshman players wanted their own BA high school team, and they worked together with their parents to create this team. We created the team with 10 players and started the season eight weeks later with 17.   

When were you diagnosed with ALS?

August 2010.

How has your life changed due to ALS?

Despite the physical limitations that come with ALS, I treat everything as business as usual. My players and coaches pitch in and help when needed, and yell loudly for me since my voice doesn’t project as much as it once did. I have coached football, basketball and soccer, so lacrosse was a fun new sport to learn.

What does lacrosse mean to you, your family and your community?

It has definitely brought us closer as a family and as a community. We have a great group of dedicated boys, and their parents have become wonderful friends. Our son has friends all over the region and plays with several different travel teams.

How do you incorporate the game into your daily life?

Lacrosse has become a way of life for our family. We do something lacrosse every day. Our daughter, who is a sophomore college basketball player, came home over Labor Day weekend and said, “I’m home for a few hours, and you are already talking about lacrosse.”

What support have you received from US Lacrosse?

Last spring, we received a US Lacrosse First Stick grant. This has enabled us to reach players that the purchase of equipment is a barrier to their participation. Our team’s goal is to make sure any player that wants to participate is good to gear up and get on the field, and that cost does not prohibit their participation. We are extremely grateful for this grant.

What can US Lacrosse do to make the game more prevalent locally, statewide, regionally and nationally?

I would like to see US Lacrosse heavily involved at the local level in the development of new high school programs. We had no idea where to even start. It would be nice to have a general development outline. Our regional manager, Tim LaBelle, has been an invaluable resource in establishing this program and helping recruit players through demonstrations.

Locally Grown

Central Texas

US Lacrosse gathered members, program leaders and volunteers from across the region for a town hall meeting Aug. 19, then staged Coach Development Program Level 1 and Level 2 clinics Aug. 19-20 at The Regents School in Austin.

North Texas

The US Lacrosse North Texas Chapter worked with the Dallas Rattlers to stage a clinic for boys and girls in grades K-12 before an MLL game July 7 — part of US Lacrosse Night at Ford Center at the Star in Frisco, Texas.


The BraveHeart Summer Box Lacrosse Tournament Aug. 25-26 featured boys in grades 7-9 and teams from Tulsa and Oklahoma City. Players attended a box lacrosse clinic and practice, and each team played in five games.

Picture This 

El Paso Pride

The Franklin Mountains provide the backdrop to a girls’ lacrosse clinic Sept. 8 in El Paso, Texas.  The El Paso Starz program provides playing opportunities for girls in grades 8-12 and will host a fall ball tournament Nov. 17.

My USL Rep

Tim LaBelle, Southwest

Tim LaBelle, a native New Yorker who spent the last seven years as a lacrosse coach and administrator in central Texas, joined US Lacrosse in April 2017. He previously coached youth and high school lacrosse in Maryland, New York and North Carolina and is a US Lacrosse Coach Development Program trainer. A Tulsa, Okla., resident, he supports development efforts in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas.

How can US Lacrosse help grow the sport in your area? Contact Tim at tlabelle@uslacrosse.org or 410-235-6882.

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