By The Charleston Chronicle
Terms like cradling and clamping aren’t common in this area when it comes to sports. However, those words are growing in popularity at Memminger Elementary School thanks to its new lacrosse team.
Assistant Principal Stephen Thomas learned about lacrosse growing up in Maryland. While lacrosse has an established tradition in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions as well as large suburban schools and private schools, students in urban public schools often do not have access to the sport due to the cost of equipment. Thomas found a way to help overcome that obstacle for students at Memminger through United States Lacrosse’s First Stick Program.
U.S. Lacrosse created the First Stick Program to increase access to the sport in more communities throughout the country. Schools can receive free equipment so that they can provide an affordable experience for their students. The “Starter Kit” grant provides $6,000 worth of equipment, including lacrosse sticks, gloves, arm pads, and helmets. The grant also includes complimentary U.S. Lacrosse memberships for two adult coaches and the players from the school.
Thomas found out Memminger was approved in January. Once the equipment started to arrive, Thomas had no problem recruiting students for the inaugural team; they have 14 players on the roster. “It’s been amazing watching our boys come together as a team, and their families have fully embraced this adventure,” explained Thomas, who is the Mariners’ head coach. “Our students are a hardworking, athletic group, who took a chance on a sport they had not seen before. But that’s what Mariners do. They’re risk-takers who venture into uncharted territory.”
Robert Feeters, a sergeant for the Charleston Police Department, serves as an assistant coach. The team also receives guidance and support from Robert Hagood, who runs the local non-profit Cusabo Nation Lacrosse.
Memminger made its debut earlier this week against Meeting Street Academy’s team through the City of Charleston’s recreation program. The Mariners came up short in their first contest, but their enthusiasm for the sport is growing every day.
“This season is all about growth and learning the fundamentals,” added Thomas. “But with player dedication and the continued support from the community, I’m confident that next year, Memminger will have one of the top 10U (10 and under) boys’ teams in the Lowcountry.”
You can root for the Mariners at their upcoming games this season: April 1 at 6:30 p.m., April 3 at 6:30 p.m., April 8 at 5:30 p.m., April 10 at 6:30 p.m., April 24 at 5:30 pm; and April 30th at 5:30 p.m. They play at Chisholm Field, which is on Austin Avenue near Dolphin Cove Marina.
For more information about Memminger’s lacrosse team, contact Stephen Thomas at 843-724-7778.
This article originally appeared in the Charleston Chronicle.