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South Side High School lacrosse players host clinic for children with special needs

Rockville Centre teens start a lacrosse clinic

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Two Rockville Centre sophomores are bringing their love and knowledge of lacrosse to students with special needs. Brady West and Emma Madden, both 15-year-old varsity lacrosse players at South Side High School, held their first Limitless Lacrosse clinic this month, and it was such a hit that they’ll do another session this fall.

“Lacrosse is such a big part of our lives, and it was great giving back to the game by teaching some basic skills and having fun at the same time,” West said.

Madden and West, best friends since they were babies, according to their mothers, started playing lacrosse in second grade. Over the years they have volunteered at a variety of sports clinics for children with special needs, and noticed that, while there were opportunities for children to learn tennis, basketball, soccer and other sports, that wasn’t the case with lacrosse.

“We decided to hold the clinic because of our love for lacrosse,” Madden said. “Through lacrosse we’ve met some of our closest friends, and it’s taught us so many valuable life lessons that we’ll carry on with us throughout our lives. Through this clinic, our goal was to allow everyone to experience our love and passion for the game. We feel that everyone should be given the opportunity to be a part of such an amazing sport.”

The clinic was held at the RVC Athletic Complex on Peninsula Boulevard on Aug. 8, and was attended by seven students, ages 9 to 20, who had never been exposed to the sport. West created an hour-long program that broke the game down to the basics while aiming to make sure the participants had fun. The trainers introduced them to the sport’s skills either by setting them to music or making up games. When teaching cradling, for example, they set up a speaker and did drills in a “freeze dance” style — the students had to stop moving whenever the music paused. There were about 20 volunteers, with a ratio of about three or four volunteers to one new player, so each of them received individualized attention.

“Our main goal was to make sure that everybody, both volunteers and campers, had fun,” Madden said. “Considering all of the smiles I saw, I’d like to think it went perfectly. We managed to teach ground balls, passing, cradling and shooting while showing off some of our favorite dance moves and having fun.”

“It was amazing,” said Jaime Madden, Emma’s mother. “We had a bunch of volunteers from the high school help out at the event, and others helped get the word out. Everyone was enthusiastic, and is looking forward to doing it again.”

Kelly West, Brady’s mother, was also pleased with the response. “The kids were really engaged, and I was impressed with how it went,” she said.

When one participant first learned of the clinic, his father said, he exclaimed, “Finally!”

“That was the best part about the day for me,” Kelly said.

Limitless Lacrosse plans to hold another clinic in September, with the date to be determined. Sportset Health and Fitness Club, on Maple Avenue, has offered to donate free field time for a future clinic. For more information, email limitlesslacrosservc@gmail.com.