The sights and sounds of young people hard at play have dominated the landscape at Nunes Field in Edgartown in recent days. The occasion is the seventh annual M|11 lacrosse clinic, run by Brady Miller of Greenwich, Conn., and his team of five coaches. Approximately 40 boys and girls, ages 6 to 16, participated in the two-week program.
Miller, who was born and raised on Long Island, has lacrosse in his blood. “The M in
M|11 is for Miller,” he explained, “and I was the 11th of 12 children. All but one of us played lacrosse.”
Miller’s upbeat energy is reflected in the continuous motion on the field. Each day four different groups, organized by age and gender, hustle their way through a series of drills.
Whether executing a drill or changing stations, players are alert and focused. No one is idle.
“There’s no standing around,” said Miller. “We want lots of movement and ball touches.” A soundtrack from a set of Megaboom speakers keeps the beat going: “We usually play country.”
Another feature of the clinic is the combining of several skills into one drill, always under the watchful eye of a staff member. A group of older boys, operating from two lines, worked on cradling, passing, and shooting accuracy. Elsewhere, a group of young girls practiced ball-scoop technique and defense.
Conditioning is another focus. Following a drill, with lacrosse balls piled in the goal or scattered well beyond the net, coaches’ cries of “run ’em back” ring out for all to hear. It’s everybody’s job to collect the balls, and do it on the run.
That’s exactly how the players like it. Zach Macey of Connecticut is back for his second M|11 camp. “I like the fast pace,” he said. “The coaches are friendly and very experienced. They’ve made me a better player, and last year helped me get over a bad injury.”
Vineyarders Hannah Best and Emily Anderson, both 10th graders, are also clinic veterans. Like many participants, they are Martha’s Vineyard Lacrosse Association members who want further training in the summer. The M|11 emphasis on game-situation skills appeals to both girls.
Twelve-year old Tad Davies of Colorado talked about the “great interactions” with the coaches, who have helped him improve his shooting and passing skills.
Then Tad uttered those fateful words that have long haunted New England baseball coaches: “I switched over from baseball.” Lacrosse’s stature as the second fastest growing sport in the U.S. comes as no surprise to that beleaguered group, who for years have seen their young sluggers and pitchers succumb to the sport’s allure.
That allure was on display during an end-of-the-week scrimmage. The speed of play, the quick reactions, the physicality and the thrill of a goal scored, all separate this storied Native American sport from our national pastime.
“Lacrosse is expanding, but it remains a tight, welcoming community,” said Miller. “Many clinics, like ours, are a mix of local and summer kids. They stay in touch through social media and attend other clinics together. That’s one of the special things about the sport.”
Brady Miller loves what he does and does what he loves. And if the effort, chatter, and enthusiasm of the M|11 participants are any indication, the future of lacrosse is set for at least another generation.