East Coast USA and Midwest USA are vastly different places. Geographies, people, cultures, etc all vary. I have lived on the east coast my entire life. Grew up and currently live in eastern Pennsylvania, work daily in New Jersey, and college in New York State (Central).
My hometown lies in the middle of a perplexing lacrosse triangle, made up of Boston (New England), Buffalo, and Maryland.New England regions down the coast to Maryland all have become familiar with ﬁeld lacrosse. Though there are few adult leagues, high school varsity programs are popping up everywhere and have been for close to a decade now.
In Buffalo, New York both styles of the medicine game are popular: ﬁeld and indoor/box. Buffalo does not have a ﬁeld team but root for the NLL Buffalo Bandits. Rochester has both, Philadelphia the Wings.If one were to travel west to Denver, Colorado both styles are growing at all ages and levels of ability. Adult leagues are plenty, and young boys and girls learn both ﬁeld and box lacrosse.
I recently befriended “Laxcoach Brandon” on Facebook, an Army veteran and current player, coach, and leader in the lacrosse world of the midwest. I contacted him and he agreed to answer some questions:
1. What’s your full name and lacrosse credentials/current playing or coaching position(s)?
Brandon Brackett Credentials:
I’ve been playing for over eighteen years. I’ve scored more goals in my life than I can remember and I still have gas in the tank. I grew up playing field lacrosse in New Hampshire. I played NJCAA for two years before joining the Army for seven years. I landed in Denver in January 2010 to go to grad school and get involved in the booming lacrosse scene as much as possible. I play attack on the field and forward for box. I am a head coach for Valor Youth Lacrosse (Highlands Ranch) and the head coach of Lutheran High School (Parker). I also own and operate Devotion Lacrosse, a private lacrosse club, serving the southeast metro area. You won’t find anyone, anywhere, more passionate about lacrosse than me!
2. How long have you been in the Denver area, and what is the lacrosse growth out there like?In my three, going on four, years in Denver, I have seen tremendous growth at both the youth and high school level. I started the program at Lutheran High School in the spring of 2013 and my club, Devotion Lacrosse at the same time. It seems that every day I have people inquiring for opportunities to play or get private lessons. There is also a sizeable post-collegiate club scene. Even old guys like me can find a place to play year-round!
3. In your area, is indoor or outdoor lax more popular?A
t this moment I would say that field is more popular but box is quickly gaining ground and will soon overtake the field game, especially at the youth level. I am seeing a huge increase in the popularity of box lacrosse. I plan to run a box league year round.
4. How many indoor youth leagues are there if you had to guess? What makes them so popular in the western USA?
There are only a handful of facilities in the Denver Metro which can host box leagues in the winter so that kind of limits the number of leagues at the moment. Outdoor roller hockey rinks are a viable option from March – November. What makes box lacrosse so popular is the accelerated skill development for the players and fans love it because it is nonstop action. From an administrator perspective, it is also easier to plan. I don’t need as many players, I don’t lose one hundred balls per practice, and facilities are generally awesome.
5. How do you think indoor can become more popular here on the east coast?
Anyone who doesn’t play box will be left behind in terms of skill development. That will become painfully evident and motivate the top High School and College Programs to incorporate Box, not as a winter alternative to field, but as primary skill development.
Finally, the MILLION DOLLAR DAILY DOUBLE QUESTION:
Will lacrosse ever get big professionally? How big compared with other professional sports leagues?
I have been a season ticket holder for the Colorado Mammoth for two years. They pack the house. I have never been to a game with less than 12,000 fans. The Mammoth has the best fan base in the NLL. If other NLL markets can capture a loyal fan base, we are already there. I certainly see more of a professional market for box lacrosse than field. Fans want non-stop action, box lacrosse delivers!
Lacrosse both inspires and astounds my in these regards. Not only is it the fastest growing sport in America but it is doing it on a double-game front. Expanding both inside and outside, to kids age five and adults age 40, recreational leagues and varsity programs provide new entertainment, health, scholarship opportunity and a chance to be a part of a BIG thing growing yet.
Thank you to all soldiers, current and past, at this time of year where they are not with their families. Thank you Brandon for the interview.