DOWNINGTOWN – Fundamentals. Coaches talk about them all the time.
Don’t do it that way, do it this way – the proper way. Repetition after repetition, an athlete eventually understands the concept and combines basic instinct to get the job done right.
While much of the attention enjoyed by the fifth and sixth grade junior varsity boys’ Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) lacrosse team at St. Joseph Parish in Downingtown focused on remaining undefeated in league play, Kevin Goforth realized that wins and losses were far from the main goal at such a young stage.
Originally from upstate New York and a lacrosse coach for the past seven years, Goforth inherited the St. Joseph’s JV squad this past spring while simultaneously coaching Bishop Shanahan High School’s varsity lacrosse team.
Despite the disparity of skill level, Goforth continued to stress the necessary mantra of fundamentals.
“Everyone continues to develop, but in the very early stages, it’s extremely basic,” said Goforth. “At the (grade school) JV level, you try and blend some kids who have already achieved a certain skill level in with the ones who are just starting. The less-experienced players tend to rise a little quicker when they are out there with someone who knows how to play.”
In lacrosse, the main goal is to learn how to properly pass and catch the ball. If no one has the ability to do either, an event can easily morph into a slapstick routine.
“Put it this way,” Goforth laughed, “you end up with a lot of ground balls.”
Goforth and his wife Dawn have five children aged 7 through 19. The four youngest all played lacrosse this spring, including Eli, a soon-to-be sixth grader who was a member of the undefeated junior varsity team.
Well, undefeated in the Southeastern Pennsylvania Youth Lacrosse Association (SEPYLA), but not overall. In tournament play, St. Joseph’s did not fare as well as it had against spanisional competition.
“We came back down to earth a little bit,” said Goforth. “Some of those teams were very tough. But our players handled themselves well. They play unselfishly and it’s been fun watching them come together to form a nice little team.”
Among those who have emerged impressed is Paul Eells. A 1986 graduate of Monsignor Bonner High School, Eells’ 11-year-old son Anthony contributed to St. Joseph’s JV team and, according to his father, always came home in a positive frame of mind.
So while the St. Joseph’s youngsters reacted with unbridled enthusiasm after defeating Lower Merion opponent Ashbee to clinch an undefeated record, Eells recognized that something more important had been achieved.
“I don’t think anyone expected them to do as well as they did because going undefeated is a tough thing to do, but they got better as the season went along and that is a credit to the players and coaches,” said Eells. “It was a very good experience.”
John Knebels can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.