Texas Boxla Does Their Job Growing the Game

January 5th, 2012 9:30 AM CST: Joe Ernst sits alone in his home office in Georgetown, TX. Anyone who has ever spent any time around Joe knows that during the business day he never stops working.

Usually, he is addressing two or three tasks simultaneously and he only pauses long enough to provide his body with the fuel it needs to continue at this frantic pace. Today is different. The office does not echo with the distinctive sound of his fingers punishing his laptop’s keyboard. Today, the office is quiet. Joe sits at is desk, his face fixed in a contemplative expression, as he gazes out the window that overlooks his backyard. Suddenly, the deliberation is over and Joe begins hammering away at his laptop. Joe Ernst just decided to bring authentic, Canadian-style boxla to Texas.

Bringing legitimate box lacrosse to the Lone Star State is an ambitious undertaking by any standard. Fortunately, Joe is the perfect man for the job. A native of Buffalo, NY, Joe has been playing lacrosse since he was eight-years-old, and he has played box for most of his life. He received a substantial scholarship to play NCAA DI lacrosse at Siena College. After graduating with a degree in finance, Joe worked on Wall Street; however, the game was always his true passion. He left the corporate world to pursue a career in coaching. Joe coached at the collegiate level for 12 years before deciding that it was time to bring the Canadian box game to the Great State.

In order to make his vision a reality, Joe founded the Texas Box Lacrosse Association (TBLA). The mission of the TBLA is to provide an authentic, Canadian-style box lacrosse experience and raise the level of play in the state of Texas through competitive and instructional programs. The TBLA has just concluded its inaugural Summer Season, and they are ramping up for their 2012 Fall Season. The company has noticed a significant increase in the interest in box lacrosse throughout the course of their Summer Season, and they hope to see that trend continue. The Texas Box lacrosse Association conducts programs in Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. In their inaugural season they had over 300 members across four markets. The company anticipates their registration numbers to be markedly higher for the upcoming Fall Season.

“We want to help Texas get to the next level and be able to compete on a national level. One great way to do this is through box lacrosse and the myriad of skills it brings to the field game. We aren’t looking to just do “indoor” lacrosse, we are bringing authentic Canadian box lacrosse to Texas. This is something no one has done before and with the NCAA coaches all boasting the box skills and recruiting them and the popularity of guys like Mark Matthews, John Grant Jr, etc. we think this will really take off here.” said Ernst

The TBLA specifically trains its referees to use modified CLA box rules and also trains its coaches in the box game in order to provide the most authentic boxla experience possible. The TBLA offers three divisions: a Youth Academy, High School Division, and Senior A/B Division.

When asked about the possible impact that box lacrosse could have in Texas, University of Virginia Men’s Lacrosse Head Coach, Dom Starsia, had the following to say:

“The best way for young players to accelerate the development of their skills would be exposure to box lacrosse. It is fun and it is helpful. I can hardly think of a more productive way for lacrosse in Texas to improve.”

The TBLA introduced the Youth Academy for the 2012 Fall Season due to observations made by the TBLA staff during the inaugural Summer Season. The company decided that a greater emphasis on skill development would be more beneficial for the younger players. Each Youth Academy session will be approximately half skills/box lacrosse instruction and half scrimmage and game play in a ‘house league’ format. As the Texas Box Lacrosse Association grows and their young players learn the box game, they hope to transition this age group into a true league format.

While the High School Division retains its instructional component for the Fall Season, the TBLA has shifted the emphasis to gameplay for this age group. The TBLA was pleased to observe a marked improvement in box-specific skills in the High School Division during the Summer Season.

One of TBLA’s goals is that, by next summer, youth and high school player development will be at a level that makes it appropriate for them to take a TBLA ‘all-star’ team from each age group up to Canada to play; and, to be in a position to host Canadian teams that would like to travel down to Texas to play in Texas.

The Senior A/B Division is a strictly competitive league with no instructional component. Whether league play is in a team format or weekly drop-in’s, is determined by registration, and the preference of the players in that market. The TBLA makes every attempt to be as accommodating as possible when it comes to the desires and needs of their members.

It comes as no surprise that box-specific protective gear is not readily available in Texas. As it is the TBLA’s mandate to provide comprehensive support for every aspect of their member’s needs, they sought out a retailer that, not only offered the finest box lacrosse equipment available, but also had a rich history and comprehensive understanding of authentic, Canadian-style boxla. The Texas Box Lacrosse Association found those characteristics in Fierce Lacrosse; and, the two companies formed a partnership in order to make box lacrosse equipment readily available to TBLA members at affordable prices.

The TBLA recently hosted its first Pro Series Clinic Featuring Kyle Harrison and Sam Bradman. The Texas Box Lacrosse Association is proud to be hosting more Pro Series Clinics during the 2012 Fall Season featuring box legend John Grant Jr. and young Canadian lacrosse phenom Mark Matthews.

Every member of the TBLA staff is passionate about growing the game of lacrosse; and, they are always looking for opportunities to collaborate with like-minded individuals and organizations.