A condensed version of this story appeared in the Southwest edition of the April issue of US Lacrosse Magazine. Don't get the print edition? Become a US Lacrosse member today and help support the positive development of the sport.

“This is just a wonderful program, with no stress involved, and a lot of fun to host.”

As endorsements go, they don’t come much better than that.

Those were the words of Kristen Marr, program director of Arkansas-based Little Rock Lacrosse, after hosting a US Lacrosse TryLax clinic in January. Marr and her team welcomed 64 boys and girls to the event, exposing the first-timers to the basics of lacrosse.

Her volunteer coaches, mostly recruited from the local high school teams, easily followed the clinic curriculum provided by US Lacrosse. All the participating kids received a new lacrosse stick to keep and a one-year membership to US Lacrosse.

“The support materials and curriculum from US Lacrosse made it so easy for our directors and coaches to hold the event,” Marr said. “The fast-paced curriculum, with no standing-in-line drills, made it fun for all. The first graders had just as much fun as the eighth graders.”

Now in its eighth year of operation, Little Rock Lacrosse is trying to draw more kids into its developmental pipeline. The organization features a combined boys’ team for grades 4-6, two teams for boys’ grades 7-8, and a budding girls division. Most of the players eventually fill the rosters of the four high school boys’ and girls’ teams in Little Rock.

“We are constantly looking for ways to grow our youth program,” Marr said. “In a non-traditional area like ours, sometimes that can be difficult. Almost all the kids playing in high school came through our youth program.”

Marr called on many of those high schoolers to also help with the TryLax clinic, and willingly, they showed up with their jerseys on to serve as mentors for the youth participants. The high school players helped with the registration check-in, equipment distribution and manned the drill stations.

“Nobody got bored because we kept everybody moving,” Marr said. “They loved the fast-paced action.”

The good news is that the game exposure for the newcomers yielded quite a return for the local program.

“We had 64 kids at the clinic, and almost 100 percent signed up for spring teams. I think that says it all. It was a huge success,” Marr said.

Having started her own association with Little Rock Lacrosse as a parent volunteer before transitioning into the program director role, Marr understands the critical need to win over the parents. One of her priorities is to make the sport fun for novice parents by helping them learn more about the game.

“The parents were so complimentary of the event,” she said. “They were asking me when we were going to host the next one because so many of their kids wanted to bring friends back with them.”

As a lifelong Arkansas native, Marr is excited to be witnessing significant growth for lacrosse in her state. She understands that an event like TryLax can effectively drive more new players to the game, and Little Rock Lacrosse happily provides the local pathway for the kids who wish to play.

“I would highly encourage anyone who wants to grow lacrosse in their area to host a TryLax day,” Marr said. “Once you give kids a stick, you’ve got them.”