The State of Lacrosse features a state-by-state look at lacrosse growth in the US. In each post we'll interview individuals involved in growing lacrosse in their home state. Today we focus on Alaska and speak with Mike Driscoll and Brandon Cota. Mike runs the Anchorage Lacrosse League which oversees a Men's, Women's and Youth league in the Anchorage area. Brandon is a member of the Anchorage Lacrosse men's team and earlier this summer uploaded a YouTube helmet cam video of one of their games.
Tell us a little bit about lacrosse in Alaska?
I think some people were surprised to see a helmet cam clip come out of all places Anchorage, Alaska. Can you give me a little background on the video?
BC: My buddy who you see in the very first part of the video (Connor Meyer) had a GoPro Helmet cam he uses for longboarding videos, and he approached me on doing one for lacrosse.
What region of the state are you seeing the most growth?
MD: There is tremendous potential in the Anchorage/Eagle River area. The limiting factor is getting the word out about our league and having enough lacrosse coaching support for more than 2 nights a week to keep momentum. Every time we put concerted effort into getting the word out we get a big upswing in player attendance.
BC: Lacrosse is blowing up in Anchorage, and the valley. I also heard Kenai has a youth team although I'm not sure about a mens league down there.
Is lacrosse in Alaska similar to the sport in Canada in the sense that the indoor game is more popular than the field game?
MD: Nope. Most people seem to like the summer lacrosse more
BC: As far as I can tell, no. Canada mostly plays true box (indoor) lacrosse. In Anchorage, (when we play indoors) we play the outdoor game on a smaller indoor field.
Is lacrosse seen as a more economic alternative to hockey by Alaskan parents?
MD: It’s definitely cheaper.
BC: I have a bunch of friends who play competitive hockey and I can spend more on lacrosse gear than they spend on all of their hockey gear. Just depends how much your parents are willing to spend.
Is there a lot of crossover between hockey and lacrosse athletes?
Have any collegiate clubs developed in Alaska? One would think the geographic separation of the state makes it quite challenging for a college team in Alaska to truly thrive.
BC: I do not know if there are any college teams in Alaska. As far as I can tell that won't be for a while until teams can travel for cheaper, or more competition grows in state.
Are Alaskan teams at any level traveling out of state to tournaments to test their skills nationally?
BC: I know the (Anchorage) Men's League travels to San Diego every year for a lacrosse tournament. I've been trying to talk to the guys about playing in Vail. The Vail tournament would be HUGE with teams coming from across the country to come play.
According to this facebook group it looks like Service High School and Dimond High School are trying to get programs started? Any thoughts? What are their chances?
BC: I think that's awesome, but it isn't easy. If they can get enough interest the school may add it. They'll have to talk to the Athletic Director, propose ideas how you will build a budget for the sport (Fundraising, Sponsors, etc..) If they go in with a plan, and show genuine interest, hopefully they'll get what they want.
What are the most prominent challenges that faces growth in Alaska?
MD: It’s all opportunity. If someone wanted to double the league in size over the next year I think it’s entirely possible by just getting more aggressive in getting the word out. Honestly, our goals for the league are pretty modest right now. Provide a space to play. Provide a space to teach young players. We seem to have reached a critical mass and are currently enjoying the numbers we’ve got. But there really aren’t many challenges that slow our growth. It’s a great time for lacrosse in Alaska.
BC: The only problem I see possibly, is people lacking enough motivation to try to make it bigger due to the many challenges. You have to do whatever you can. Start small
What should be some of the goals for Alaska lacrosse in the near future?