Frequently Asked Questions
The Lacrosse Season
Q: Who are all those boys and girls I see at the park running around with sticks?
They are playing lacrosse! Lacrosse is a sport long dominated in the East with ties to the Iroquois Nation tribes in what is now the State of New York. However, over the past several years, organized lacrosse has taken hold in the Chicago area and growth has been explosive. Central Illinois is positioning itself to be be the next growth opportunity for the sport in Illinois. Dunlap Youth Lacrosse Club became part of the Dunlap REC Association in 2013 and provides one of only three lacrosse opportunities for boys in the area. For 2018, Dunlap Lacrosse will also provide a youth girls team for girls in grades 2-8. Dunlap Lacrosse forms its teams from and serves boys and girls living in Dunlap and all surrounding Peoria communities.
Q: My son/daughter learned about lacrosse during PE at my Dunlap elementary school in August and wants to give it a try. How do I start?
We will be conducting fun 2017 fall clinics for beginners on Sundays. We have a wonderful group of experienced college and high school players who will dedicate their time to teach the players the basics. Anyone who is still interested in playing with a team will be able to participate in more clinics in the winter and play in our spring league season.
Q: Is it safe?
The rules of Lacrosse are designed to restrict the chance of serious injury. However, it is a contact sport, and injuries can occur. Boys Lacrosse employs helmets, pads and gloves because checking and contact are allowed (but highly regulated), much like hockey. However, the rules of Girl's Lacrosse make it a low-contact sport, and so less protective gear is required (more information on this below). The injury rate in girl's lacrosse is similar to but statistically lower than in girl's youth soccer.
Q: Is it growing? Can my child play in High school and College?
Lacrosse is played internationally and is the fastest growing youth sport in the country! On the east coast it is the #1 youth sport for both boys and girls, and in the Midwest it is booming. Locally, Washington, Morton, and Notre Dame High schools offer JV and Varsity girls and boys club lacrosse. Dunlap High School Boys and Girls Lacrosse is approved as an official ISHA sport in 2018, allowing the teams to play against other competitive high schools in Illinois. (Please note that the girls HS team may start as a club sport for 1-2 years before moving to IHSA.) At the college level, lacrosse provides a greater opportunity for athletes to compete, with 12.3% going to play on a NCAA Lacrosse team compared to 5.6% of HS soccer players and 3.4% of basketball players. (see NCAA publication)
Q: It looks hard to pass and catch. My daughter/son has never played, how long will it take to get these skills down?
At the outset it's a steep learning curve - sort of like riding a bicycle. Also, some young athletes are more natural at it than others. However, the direct benefits from practice are huge and observable. The more time your child puts into it, the faster they will pick it up. Our coaches highly encourage home practice - throwing against a wall outside (a backboard at the park, or a cement wall, for instance) - is the best thing your child can do. As a parent, you can buy a Lacrosse stick too, jump on the practice bandwagon, and throw with your child, or use a baseball glove if that's more appealing. But repetition is the name of the game, and if he/she starts learning in the fall, practices will be more fun in January/February! But remember, all developmental teams have kids at the start of the season who are still learning the basics, so this shouldn't be a concern. So...how long until they can throw and catch? It shouldn't take more than a few weeks, maybe a month or so, before your child can do a decent job passing and catching. By the end of the first season, it will feel natural, and over the following years your child will become truly expert. Kids who have been playing for years are still perfecting passing, catching and shooting and getting better each season with their accuracy and precision. As they say, there's always room for improvement!
Q: How do I learn about upcoming lacrosse events?
If you have already participated in a lacrosse event, you are automatically on our email list. If you have played another REC sport, you will receive our general announcements via the REC site. If you follow our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/dunlaplax/), you will be notified about all upcoming events.
Q: What is US Lacrosse? Do I have to join?
US Lacrosse is the sport's national governing body which provides national leadership, structure and resources to fuel the sport's growth and enrich the experience of participants. It assists groups step-by-step, through the process of establishing new youth or high school teams, and provides funding through grants. Members receive several benefits such as Excess Accident Medical and General Liability Insurance while participating in covered amateur lacrosse activities. It also provides league insurance coverage if all players and coaches are members. However, since the Dunlap Lacrosse Club is part of the Dunlap Recreational league, the league itself is covered via this entity for league activities. Therefore, we do not require anyone to become a US Lacrosse member for league insurance purposes. Joining US Lacrosse provides individual insurance protection and benefits as listed on their website, and is not mandatory for Dunlap Lacrosse at this time.
The Lacrosse Season
Q: My child is not quite sure he/she likes lacrosse. Should I register him/her for the season?
Many children spend years trying out various sports before they pick one, and some like playing all sports. Because lacrosse is new, many parents encourage their children to try lacrosse, especially when they have not found another sport. The best way to find out if your child will like lacrosse is to register for our beginner clinics before deciding to register for the spring season. Because the boys’ teams are a mixture of dedicated returning players and players new to the sport, all new players should start the spring season with some knowledge of the basic skills, and show enthusiasm, dedication, and effort. We have found that players who have not asked to play the sport lack the willingness to learn, and often create a negative atmosphere that can bring the team down and make it difficult to coach. We ask that you continue to offer the clinics to your child until he or she shows a strong desire to participate in the competitive side of lacrosse. Because the girls’ teams are new this year, we expect that the majority of players will be new to competitive lacrosse. We hope that any girl who has played on other teams and wishes to be part of Dunlap Girls Lacrosse will share their experience to develop their teammates and foster a learning environment.
Q: Is there a House Team and a Travel Team like other sports?
No, each U-level only has one team, and Dunlap Lacrosse will not divide players by ability. However, it is very much like a travel team, because the “local” CILAX (Central Illinois Lacrosse) teams we compete against (Washington, Morton, Bloomington, Springfield, Champaign, and Decatur) are all 30 minutes or more outside of Peoria. In 2017, CILAX games were played as “Jamborees” where multiple leagues travelled to one location to play 2-3 games on a Saturday. Boys and girls games schedules are handled differently, and they don’t always coordinate in time and place. In addition, Dunlap participated in two multi-day tournaments in Chicago and Washington. To develop the players, Dunlap encourages everyone to attend these games against teams in the Chicago area. For the new girls team, we will also be looking to include some Chicago area competition into our game schedule. Team participation in these tournaments depends on the availability of players to travel, and the league asks for your commitment to the planned dates at registration. Regardless if you are able to attend, the season cost includes all fees for all planned competitions for each U level. If the competition event is not available to a U-level, the fee will reflect that difference, and typically this results in higher fees for the older groups. If a player is asked to play up to the next U-level, and their U-level did not include the specified tournament fee, the player will be charged the additional fee.
Q: When does season start and end?
The primary recreational lacrosse season begins in mid-February (indoor practices) one or two practices per week, and continues outdoors around March vacation (field location TBD), with games running from early April to approximately the middle of May. Boys’ and girls’ teams will participate in lacrosse games organized by Central Illinois Lacrosse (CILAX) during this spring session with additional games and tournaments in Chicago. Dunlap Lacrosse has consistently participated in the Washington Lacrosse Tournament in May, and has travelled to one Chicago tournament that requires an overnight stay. The Club may also chose to schedule a Chicago multi-game day that would require I distance travel without an overnight stay in lieu of a tournament. Decisions about scheduled spring games will not be final until season officially starts, but we will be working with other leagues to prepare the schedule earlier so that it will be available by registration.
Q: When do I register for the Spring Season and what is the practice schedule?
Registration will be open in November, with indoor practices beginning in mid-February. We will again offer winter clinics for beginners in January to allow for skill development prior to the start of the season. Boys and girls who have not played on a lacrosse team in the past or participated in our fall clinics will be asked to participate in these learning clinics.
We will not know the exact days of practice until registration opens. In some cases, depending on the coach’s schedule and availability, these days could change. Tentatively, indoor practices will be Sunday and Tuesday evenings starting mid-February. Practices will move outdoors twice during the week in late March/early April, or as soon as weather permits. Field locations will be announced before the start of the season.
Q: Why are registration fees to play higher than other local programs?
While recognizing that our spring season is recreational, we attempt to prepare all our players, from the most advanced to most developmental, to compete at higher levels of lacrosse as they move on to High School and travel lacrosse programs. Dunlap Lacrosse is a club and part of the non-profit Dunlap REC Association, and run by volunteer coaches and coordinators. We are the only Central Illinois Lacrosse (CILAX) club that is neither associated with a Park District nor private, and is self-funding. In addition, the Dunlap district has a limited amount of field space for all the spring programs. Because of this, if fields are unavailable, we are required to locate and pay for field space both indoors and outdoors. Player registration fees are established prior to each season based on budgetary needs, where the anticipated fixed and variable costs (such as field space) are allocated among registered players. Importantly, unlike some sports and youth organizations, Dunlap Lacrosse has historically not required players or parents to sell candy or otherwise find team sponsors or other sources of revenue. In 2018, the club will form a volunteer fundraising committee to solicit sponsorships and design fundraising opportunities, but will not require the participation of any parent or player. As such, yearly player costs will be held at the historical standard ($200 plus uniform) as much as possible, with the goal of reducing costs in the future based on fundraising efforts.
A player may withdraw before the 2nd day of practice for a full refund less an administrative fee of $50. Refunds are given as REC credit only good towards registration in any REC sponsored activity; cash/credit card refunds are not available. If a player must withdraw after the 2nd day of practice, refunds are not available. Fees for uniforms that have already been ordered on the player’s behalf are non-refundable.
Player fees cover team expenses, including field rentals (games and practices), tournament fees, referee fees, practice balls, REC insurance, and other variable budgetary needs. Most players choose to provide their own equipment, but the Club maintains a limited number of boys’ sticks and protective gear for rent. Rental fees are non-refundable due to the limited availability of gear.
All requests must be submitted in writing to email@example.com.
Q: We live in Peoria, but would like to have our son/daughter play for one of your teams. How do we do that?
Our league is part of the Dunlap REC Association, and has a provisional exemption from their rules that allows us to accept players who are not Dunlap students and do not have a lacrosse program in their school district. Registration is simple and done through the DunlapREC website. Anyone who has established a login and password on the system will receive notifications when registration opens. Dunlap Lacrosse is proud to be a source for lacrosse education and help youth players develop their skills so that they can eventually play for their high school, even if it is not in Dunlap. Importantly, Dunlap Lacrosse will never assess your player's ability before registering for the team. It makes no difference to us whether your son or daughter is a future All American or a first time player. We want all players to learn proper lacrosse, and our program desires to encourage and assist each player to develop their lacrosse skills to their personal best so they can make a valuable contribution to the success of the team.
Q: My son is in Kindergarten and wants to learn lacrosse. Can he play on a team yet?
We would like to give any boy who wants to play lacrosse a place on the Dunlap team. US Lacrosse, the national governing body for men’s and women’s lacrosse, has adopted a new player segmentation policy to help ensure player safety, competitive fairness and a consistent experience for youth lacrosse. They have grouped players by single-age years (12-month span), with U-level based on a player’s age as of September 1 to allow them to play with children in their own grade level as much as possible. For local league and community-based play, they allow the formation of teams with up to a 24-month age variance. For safety, it is not recommended to allow a player to compete in a situation where his size and strength are considerably less than his opponents. We will make every attempt to teach lacrosse to our youngest players, but may limit their participation in available game situations based on size and play level. Since we will not have a 6U team for Kindergarteners, we can accept players as young as 6 years old to play with the 8U boys developmental team provided the child is enthusiastic to learn and has an appropriate attention span. Although developmental, each member of the team will be expected to be able to follow the coach’s instructions. If other area teams have equivalent U-levels, we will schedule as many games that we can for the players’ growth. If other area teams are not available to play, we will continue scrimmage play, and look for another opportunity for 6/8U to play outside of our area. Although we understand the desire to encourage competitiveness in enthusiastic players, we will assess each player's situation individually to guarantee that the player is not placed in a game situation where the player’s size could affect the player’s safety. We will make all efforts each year to provide lacrosse learning opportunities for all who are interested in playing.
Q: Is there a team for my 1st-4th grade daughter?
Dunlap Girls Youth Lacrosse will be NEW for the 2018 season! In the fall of 2017 we will offer clinics to start instructing girls who may be interested in playing on the spring team. The number of girls who are interested at each age level will determine whether there is a separate team for this age group. Because other local leagues only field one girls team (5th-8th), we may also limit the participation of our younger girls in games based on size and player ability. As a developmental team, the 1st-4th grade girls will play intra-team scrimmages provided there are sufficient numbers. If funds permit, and if parents are committed to seeking out additional game opportunities, Dunlap Girls Lacrosse may consider participating in the Illinois Girls Lacrosse Association league games in the Chicago area, allowing the younger players to play in age-appropriate games.
Q: My son/daughter plays another spring sport. Can s/he still play lacrosse?
US Lacrosse encourages multi-sport athletes. They feel that competition, not specialization, build elite athletes. Unlike many other youth sports that encourage, and often require, year-round participation, Dunlap Youth Lacrosse only competes in the spring. Although we would like to avoid having practices and games at the same as other spring sports, it is impossible for any team to take into consideration all the other sports available to our lacrosse players. We still encourage anyone who wants to play lacrosse to also play other sports, even during the same season since many of these sports will not conflict once they reach high school (XC, soccer, basketball, wrestling, hockey for boys, and XC, tennis, basketball, hockey, volleyball for girls). Also, we agree that young athletes should not have to choose one sport until they are much older. Many top lacrosse players like Kyle Harrison were 3 season athletes all the way through high school. That being said, please be aware that game time is earned. Although no player who has joined the team will be denied playing time, the focus should be on improving personal skills during practices and supporting the team during competitions. It is unfair to those who have made every effort to be at the practices and games to stand on the sideline more than someone who is dividing their time with another team.
Q: My player is a beginner. What team division should I register for?
Dunlap Lacrosse will not divide players by ability. Because of this, the teams have players who have played for 6 years and those who have never played lacrosse. In order to start the season with basic skills, we highly encourage new players to attend a beginner’s clinic (fall or winter) before registering for the season. Coaches will assume players registering for the season have basic skills with catching, throwing, and cradling the ball, but will always continue to guide and teach the skills necessary to improve a player’s game. Because game skills are part of the lacrosse season, new players are not expected to know all the rules of lacrosse even after attending a beginner’s clinic.
According to US Lacrosse guidelines, team placement is based on birthdate, with play level beginning Sept 1 and ending August 31.* The following chart will help you place your player in the proper division for the Spring 2018 Season.
U14/7th & 8th grade-- Born 9/1/2003 through 8/31/2005. For CILAX games and the Washington Tournament in May, players turning 15 before August 31, 2018 may play as a 14U if they are also in 8th grade. (Please note that players who turn 15 before August 31 may not be allowed to play in certain tournaments in Chicago that are US Lacrosse sanctioned if birth certificate verification is required to prove eligibility.)
U12/5th & 6th grade-- Born 9/1/2005 through 8/31/2007
U10/3rd & 4th grade-- Born 9/1/2007 through 8/31/2009
U8/1st & 2nd grade-- Born 9/1/2009 through 8/31/2011: This level will focus on skills development with match play dependent on local game availability. If competitive game availability is limited, players in this U-level who progress to throwing and catching effectively may be given the opportunity to play with 10U depending on player size, team size, and coach discretion.
All girls teams will continue to be formed based on current academic grade. Local game availability may dictate whether a younger team will be competitive or developmental.
Elementary School = Grades 1st - 4th and
Middle Schools = Grades 5th - 8th (and some 4th graders depending on size).
* If a U-level has more than 30 players, that U-level will be divided by grade (not ability) into 2 new U-levels. In cases where a player is in the grade below his US Lacrosse age group and has a birthday after the last game date for the season (usually May), the player may request to play “down” for the season according to his current grade level rather than by his actual US Lacrosse-based age group. Approval of this change will be at the Director/coach’s discretion and parent agreement. Request fulfillment is dependant on team size, and is not guaranteed. Requests should be made to the Director. (Please note that players who play “down” for the season may play at this level for local games but may not be allowed to play in certain tournaments in Chicago that are US Lacrosse sanctioned if birth certificate verification is required to prove eligibility.)
Q: Does every team have a goalie?
BOYS: The 2017 upper level boys’ teams (U15, U13 and U11) all had at least one goalie. These players will continue to play in the new US Lacrosse age levels (U14 and U12). Dunlap always welcomes other goalies as well. For the U10 and U8 teams, each player will rotate through goalie position during practices and games. Goalie equipment (chest pad, goalie pants, gloves, shin guards, stick, and throat guard) will be provided for these teams to allow for a rotation through the position. Helmets will be either the player’s own or a rented helmet from the Club for the season. If an older player on the U10 team is interested in continuing and developing in the goalie position, additional playing time will be given to allow for adequate development before advancing to the next U-level. All players at the U-8 levels will have equal playing time as goalie.
GIRLS: Goalie equipment (chest pad, goalie pants, gloves, shin guards, stick, helmet and throat guard) will be provided for any U12/14 girls who is interested in being a goalie. For the U8/10 level, all players will rotate through this position and have equal playing time as goalie during a game.
Q: I have coached other sports and am interested in coaching lacrosse, but I have never played lacrosse. How do I learn about lacrosse so that I can coach?
Many of our coaches have learned lacrosse alongside their players. For those who have no experience, US Lacrosse provides an online coaching certification program. If you want to be a lacrosse coach, starting in 2018, we ask that you complete Level I online before the season starts. An additional on-site clinic is offered by US Lacrosse at various locations (Nov 5, 2017 at Lewis University, and January 7 TBD) for those who are willing to complete the training and official Level I certification. The fee for the online and live training will be reimbursed to you by the Club once it is completed. Once you register with US Lacrosse, you have access to resources such as drills and how-to videos.
Q: My son/daughter is by far the best player on his/her team, and he should be on the field the whole game and if the team is smart, get him/her the ball. Why isn't that happening?
Proper lacrosse is a team sport and the word "together" will be uttered 100's of times through a typical youth season. Weak programs often rely on one or two highly athletic and sometimes oversized players to plow ahead and run the ball up and down the field in an attempt to score. This is not Lacrosse. Our coaches try to instill age appropriate "team concepts" in all players, with more complicated offensive and defensive sets, rides and clears in the older divisions. The sole goal of Dunlap Lacrosse is not "play to win" in the spring recreational season. That said, playtime during games is earned. Unexcused missed practices are not okay. Player attitudes that poison a squad are not okay, regardless of how terrific you think your player is. Although Dunlap does not have an official minimum play time for games, our program is designed to instruct all players and leave no player as a liability on the field. It is fair to note that it is critical that all players, no matter their skill level, undertake a strict and consistent home "wall ball" routine to develop proper stick skills. Players that take their wall ball routine seriously, develop much faster than players who fail to do so.
Q: I don’t want to coach this season, but is there any other way I can be involved and help the lacrosse club?
Absolutely! As with most non-profit youth athletic organizations, lacrosse is a group of parents who are trying to make this sport available to their children. With most of the lacrosse parents being new to the sport, the children are the drivers of the enthusiasm. Since last November, the club has implemented many new events such as the PE Day, and free community Play LAX Day, and the fall FUNdament Clinics. But there is always room for more ideas, and the people to bring their ideas to fruition. The club will need team parents to help organize, and will be asking for more help in other areas such as scheduling, fundraising, the planning of other learning opportunities for players. If you are interested in being involved, please contact
, and look for announcements about the planning meeting in October/November.
Q: My daughter tried boys lacrosse but she didn't like the helmet and shoulder pads. Does she have to wear them?
For 2018, Dunlap will now have a Youth Girls Team. Unlike other sports, girls and boys lacrosse are entirely different sports. They have different fields, different rules and different equipment. Boys lacrosse requires more protective gear than girls' lacrosse. The girls’ game emphasises ball control, passing, catching and stick work, and the rules on body contact are strict. Statistically speaking, girl's youth lacrosse sees fewer injuries than girls’ youth soccer. However, concussions can occur, and although not required by US Lacrosse rules, Dunlap WILL REQUIRE that all girls wear approved helmets. At this time, we do not have a rental program for helmets, but will be looking into starting one. (See example) Goalie protective gear is the same as the boys’ gear and will be provided to anyone who wants to play this position.
Q: What gear does my child need to begin?
For boy’s lacrosse:
Lacrosse Helmet (Football or NOCSAE approved Hockey helmet not acceptable)
Attached mouth guard
Lacrosse Shoulder Pads
Gloves ( Hockey gloves do not flex properly for lacrosse )
Athletic supporter with protective cup (required for games)
Rib pads are strongly recommended!
Rubber Sole cleats (soccer cleats are fine)
Quality of each item varies, like in any sport, and as your player's skills grow, your son's desire for higher quality items will likely emerge.
For girl’s lacrosse:
Approved girl’s helmet (See example)
Girl’s stick (a boy’s stick is not allowed)
Cleats optional for outdoor fields
SPECIAL NOTE: Boys and girls sticks are different and cannot be substituted! If you are unsure of what to buy or what the difference is, please contact us before purchase.
Q: What helmet is best for boy’s lacrosse?
Helmet selection is a personal preference. If you are unsure on which helmet to purchase, please contact us so that we can put you in touch with a coach who can answer your questions.
Q: My son/daughter has a loaner stick from a neighbor, some strings are broken, but it seems to still work. This is ok?
The loaner stick is ok. But, the strings are not! When strings look worn, it’s time to have the head re-strung. Re-stringing a lacrosse head is a mixture of art and science. Factory strung heads can be poorly strung. Improperly strung heads are the usual culprit for players who think they "can't pass or catch". Our coaches inspect strings all the time and if your son's or daughter's strings are not in order, you should have the head restrung. There are excellent trained young stringers in the youth and HS boys program who have properly strung 100's of heads. Please contact us and we can help!
Q: I am not sure my player will stick with lacrosse, so I don’t want to invest a lot of money in equipment. What options do I have?
The Club has a small number helmets to rent, and slightly more pads, gloves and elbow guards for boys. These are available based on how early you register for the season. The club has more gear available for smaller players than for middle school players. For girls, since it is a new program for 2018, as of fall 2017 there are no rental sticks or helmets available. Sponsors will be solicited to build a helmet rental pool, but until then, girls must supply their own helmets. Through Sportstop.com, we can pass on the team discount (25-30%) on protective gear, and will make that available through our online team store in January.