Lacrosse growing throughout Madison County
One of the oldest sports known to man is quite new in Madison County – and it’s growing in popularity – lacrosse. With origins dating back to the 12th century, the sport that mixes hockey, soccer and a bit of football – the Friday Night Lights kind – is getting more attention. The Madison Lacrosse or MadLax has been around for nearly a decade but more participants are getting into the fast moving sport.
Ryan Foxx serves as the President of Madison Lacrosse and his wife, Amanda serves as the secretary/treasurer of the 501c3 non-profit.
“The program has been around since 2010 but really in identity, it’s started to grow in the last three to four years,” Foxx said. “We have a youth program that today is 5th to 8th grade. We’d love to go younger as we grow and develop the sport in the Jackson metro area. We also have a high school team.”
As a member of the Gulf South Lacrosse League, the team competes against teams from Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana. Players run from ages 10 to 18.
“The ultimate goal is to continue to grow the sport and make it a high school sanctioned sport in the near future,” he said.
Currently, there are 45-50 players participating from Madison, Jackson, Ridgeland and beyond.
“I’d love to be able to bring in more kids beyond the Madison area,” he said. “We practice and play at Madison Central.”
The spring sport begins in February and runs into May. There are Sunday practices held in the fall that are more geared toward educating those who are interested and build their skills.
“We get a lot of kids in the spring who came out in the fall and fell in love with it,” he said. “Lacrosse is a combination of many sports. It’s played on the same field as a soccer field a bit larger than a football field. It is similar to basketball in terms of the rotations and screens you run to get offensive and defensive players in scoring position. It can be physical like football. You wear pads for a reason. We try to tell kids all the time that it’s a great off-season sport to play because you’re using the same types of movement and activities you use in other sports.”
Foxx also notes that lacrosse kids of all shapes and sizes the chance to perform.
“You can be a really big strong kid who likes to play and play defense. You can be small and shifty and you can play offense. The other thing I tell kids is, this game never stops. It’s very much like hockey. You substitute on the fly and you’re running constantly. Regardless of your speed or size, there is a spot on the field for you.”
There are 10 players on the field at a time including the goalie. Each player needs a stick, helmet and pads but MadLax works to help with that cost.
“We try to reduce that barrier of entry and lease that equipment to them initially,” Foxx said.
The former baseball player was looking for a spring sport for his son and while driving by he said, “that looks like fun.” With the younger Foxx enjoying the game, the parents got involved and realized it was a great opportunity for kids in the area and wanted to help it grow. MadLax has social media pages on Facebook and Instagram and has a website for those who may be interested in learning more and joining the teams. Check out www.mississippilax.com, instagram.com/mississippilacrosse and www.facebook.com/MadisonMSLacrosse.
“We try to keep the costs very low. We buy for the program and lease and we have balls and goals and referees. We have a lot of sponsorships to help keep that cost low. That’s one of the core goals of the program – to continue finding more sponsors. And no one gets paid – not me or my wife or any of the coaches. It’s all volunteer,” Foxx said.
The team is coed but there is not a girls only team yet.
“We would love to. It’s an opportunity for us to create more opportunities for girls. There are all girls teams in Hammond (Louisiana) and in Ocean Springs,” he said. “We only have had a couple of girls who have played. But we’ve averaged one to two girls a year in each program.”
He noted that even though the sport is a club sport, there have been players from the organization to play in college.
“Mississippi State and Ole Miss have club lacrosse programs that are part of the MCLA league where they play other SEC schools,” he said. “There are scholarships available and many more opportunities to grow in the near future.”