A condensed version of this story appeared in the North Atlantic 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.

Corrine Veight relishes the pre-practice greetings between herself and the children of the Small Town Sticks program in Millville, N.J.

She’s become accustomed to the hearing kids shout, “‘Hey, how’s it going Coach Veight?’” Other times, they run to her and give her a hug before strapping on their gear and taking the field.

Interactions like these are why she’s in the business of growing the game in her hometown and why she decided to start Small Town Sticks in the spring of 2019.

“Their smiles and wanting to be here and play, they remind me of when I played as a kid,” she said. “They come to practice and have their big goggles on that are too big for their heads. It’s great to see them excited.”

More and more children are flocking to Small Town Sticks, a volunteer-based lacrosse and field hockey program in Cumberland County, N.J., founded by Veight, the former Philadelphia University goalie. What started with a few clinics early last year has turned into a blossoming sports program that features clinics and camps, as well as indoor and outdoor leagues for youth players in the area.

More recently, Small Town Sticks launched its boys’ program this spring — aided by a US Lacrosse First Stick grant.

According to Veight, the goal of Small Town Sticks is to continue to introduce the game to new children and, eventually, develop a program that can compete around the state of New Jersey. Sports, whether lacrosse or field hockey, can go a long way in helping children in Millville.

“We’re not an affluent town, so the athletes in this town appreciate every single day,” she said. “They come out to practice and play every day and give 100 percent regardless of what’s happening at home or school. They just have an outlet to blow off steam, and we get to teach them about leadership, communication and being a good teammate.”

Veight is a product of the power of sports in her town, growing up playing both field hockey and lacrosse. Both sports were mainstays in her life at an early age thanks to her grandmother, Claudia McCarthy, who’s a legendary coach in Millville.

McCarthy has led both of Millville High School’s lacrosse and field hockey programs for 49 years. As such, she’s served as a major inspiration for Veight as she hopes to have the same impact on the community.

“Her knowledge of field hockey and lacrosse, and people in general, she really has a knack for it,” Veight said of her grandmother. “She helps me out with all the different aspects of not just coaching a kid, but dealing with fans and officials and everything. She’s not only helped me become a better coach, but a better person as well.”

McCarthy helped Veight get Small Town Sticks off the ground, starting with developmental clinics early last year, which drew upwards of 70 children.

After a summer camp and the fall field hockey season, Small Town Sticks introduced indoor leagues that featured 12 girls’ teams, in addition to two winter clinics.

This spring, US Lacrosse’s First Stick program provided the necessary equipment to allow Veight to start the boys’ program — a U14 team that featured 16 children. Both the girls’ and boys’ programs practiced twice a week and played games on weekends through the spring.

“We couldn’t have gotten that program off the ground this year without that grant, getting these kids suited up and getting them gear,” Veight said. “None of them had picked up a stick before except for the clinic, so it was vital.”

Veight has seen her program grow exponentially in less than two years, and she’s intent on continuing that trajectory. This summer, Small Town Sticks will host four summer camps, a testament to the interest in lacrosse and field hockey in Millville.

It may be a small town, but Veight sees big potential.

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