For four seasons 12-year-old Spencer Schmidt has played lacrosse.
“It’s really fast-paced and you always have to be looking for your guy and the ball,” said Spencer, who plays the midi position. His job is to win the face off and keep the offense and defense strong. When describing his role the El Dorado Hills youngster can hardly contain his enthusiasm … and he’s not alone.
“Lacrosse is the fastest growing sport on the West Coast,” said Garth Leone, 45. “It’s the greatest game on two feet. The kids really love it.”
Garth and his wife Kelly recently started their own business built around lacrosse. NITRO Lacrosse offers off-season camps, clinics and private lessons for new and experienced players ages 8 to 16. They also offer coach training and club start-up consulting/support (now is the time to start a club for the 2012 season).
“We can offer our services wherever folks want to learn the game,” Garth explained. “We are focusing on the greater Sacramento and NorCal areas.”
Garth’s sports experience started with ice hockey, soccer and basketball, among others. About eight years ago the picked up a lacrosse stick and found the flow of the game similar to his game on the ice. “Every player’s involved in the whole game,” Garth explained, adding that what players learn on the field translates well when their not. “Team sports teach lessons we could never manufacture as parents.”
Though he’d never competitively played lacrosse the teamwork and competition appealed to Garth and in 2006 he was a founding member of the El Dorado Hills Youth Lacrosse Club. Late friend and fellow coach Doug Smith gave Garth “The Season of Life” by Jeffery Marx. “(That) guides my coaching philosophy as does the local grown organization Positive Coaching Alliance.”
A testament to Garth’s coaching skills came from one of his young players who said, “I learned more at this camp than I did from that camp I went to in Maryland!”
When the El Dorado Hills Youth Lacrosse Club’s season ended this past May many players and parents lamented; next season is so far away. Garth and Kelly put their heads together and built a business to fill the void.
Joining Garth on the NITRO Lacrosse coaching staff is his son, Tyler Leone, 17, an assistant coach. Tyler’s had lacrosse on his mind ever since he participated in a third-grade camp. “It’s fast-paced, never-ending excitement,” Tyler explained. “What’s not to like?”
“He has the honor of scoring the very first goal in (EDH Lacrosse) club history,” Garth said.
And now Tyler’s cheering for his students to score their first goals. “It’s always really rewarding to see the kids improve and teach them everything you’ve learned,” he said.
Students like Spencer take in all the lacrosse knowledge they can get. With his over-sized gloves strapped on and his stick in hand during NITRO Lacrosse camp at Stephen Harris Park Spencer said he’d love to keep playing lacrosse, maybe through college.
“I’ll try it,” Spencer said. “It would be a lot of fun.”
For more information visit nitrolacrosse.com.
Upcoming NITRO Lacrosse clinics/workouts
(August through October — all times and locations are TBD at this time)
• Small group clinics (maximum eight players) two to three days per week.
• General skills & drills
• Position specific
• GamePlay — a unique workout where coaches observe scrimmage and have brief break-out drills based on what the player are not doing well in the scrimmage (a player favorite as they “earn” the right to keep scrimmaging by demonstrating good fundamentals in during GamePlay)
• Pick-up/drop-in one to two days per week in El Dorado Hills (Folsom and Cameron Park if there is interest)
• Wall ball clinics – Learn how to work the wall (a big part of self-improvement for the game)
• Try-out camps
(December and January — all times and locations are TBD at this time)
• LAXSpeed — A two to three days per week sport specific conditioning program to get kids in shape for the season (starts Feb. 1, 2012)
• Coaching clinics for newer coaches