Welcome to the 5/6A Westport PAL Girls Lacrosse 2021 Season!
It’s a pleasure and honor to be coaching your daughter and this fantastic group of girls this spring! We’re off to a great start, and the coaches and I are so excited about this season.
I wanted to take a moment to let you know about our team’s goals, our coaching staff’s philosophy, team rules, and review key tools for navigating the season.
There is a lot of information below - Please print it out and take a few minutes to read all the way through!
If you have any questions at any time, please feel free to email me at
. PLEASE read through the following, and please be sure to RSVP for everything! It can make or break a line-up!
Team Parent meeting
Coach and program philosophy and goals
Playing time, positions and attendance at the 5/6 A level
The Essential RSVP System
Schedule and Practice Information / How To Access Your Team Page
PARENT MEETING - Thursday 4/30 @ 7:30
We will have a meeting for 5/6 A parents this Thursday the 30th, just after practice at 7:30. We’ll meet on the right side of the bleachers (when facing the field). Come with questions! Please wear masks and adhere to social distancing guidelines as we gather.
BIOS - Our parent assistant coaches, Heather Talbott and Keith Larit, have been volunteering with PAL for years, in many different roles. I’ve worked with them on the board and as coaches and we are lucky to have their experience, dedication and enthusiasm! Heather played at Lehigh, has 3 daughters and a son, is the 3/4th program parent coordinator and a coach. Keith played at University of Hartford, has 3 daughters in our program, is our Equipment Manager and also coaches with 3/4th.
I’ve been coaching with PAL since 2010, and have been the coaching director since 2013. In 2015 I realized my true passion was coaching youth, so I left HS coaching and have dedicated my time to Westport PAL and other off-season programs. PAL is my primary commitment and it’s been remarkable watching the growth of our program over the years. I especially love the 5/6 age group! They are eager to learn and grow, and are just discovering the excitement of being a part of something bigger than themselves.
PHILOSOPHY AND GOALS
VALUES - On 5/6A we value hard work and focus, being a team player, learning, challenging our limits both physical and mental, building confidence, and being the best version of ourselves, on and off the field.
PLAYING TIME - We offer equal playing time at the 5/6 level to all who follow our guidelines for being a good team member: Attendance, Attitude and (effort toward) Aptitude. At this age at Westport PAL Girls Lacrosse, we don’t keep players from playing time if they aren’t yet excelling on the field, as long as they’re putting in the effort.
POSITIONS - We will have the girls play all positions, including goalie, to teach team dynamics, roles we each play, cooperation, as well as the fundamentals of the entire game. Some players may be played more in positions they excel at, at the coach’s discretion. If a player isn’t happy with their position I encourage them to talk to me directly.
SKILLS TARGETS for 5/6A - By the end of the season, I expect each player to be proficient at throwing, catching, ground balls, cradling, shooting, dodging, 1v1 on and off ball defense, doubling, and sliding. If they are not, they need to be spending more time on skill work outside of practice. They should also be well on their way to understanding crashing on D, settled attack, clearing, riding, transitioning and draws.
PHILOSOPHY - I believe in learning through instruction, encouragement, competition, creativity and structure. I expect them to be focused, to work hard, and give them a great deal of individual instruction, encouragement, and positive feedback.
Be On Time - If you’re on time, you’re late. Players arriving late to warmups or practices will not start and will lose playing time.
Pay Attention - I expect the girls to be focused and respectful toward coaching staff, refs, opponents, and one another.
If someone is causing distractions at practice by either talking or not listening, the second time is a lap around the field, the 3rd they sit on the sidelines for 5 minutes, and the 4th is I talk to the parents. Usually by the 3rd time they are able to redirect their energy.
Be Kind - I do not allow cliques, whispering, excluding, or rude language of any kind. I encourage the girls to be inclusive, welcoming, and open.
Share the Load - All players are expected to help clean up the field after games and practices.
If you forget any required equipment, you have to sing in front of the team to earn it back - Self -explanatory :D
Be positive from the sidelines. Never berate anyone on our team, the other team, or the ref. Anyone doing so may be removed from the sidelines. Everyone on the field is doing their best, and we at Westport always treat people with respect and maturity.
Encourage your daughter to play all positions, including goalie. Some parents do not want their players to play goalie. Please don’t be that parent. We want them to learn they share all team responsibilities. Especially if they like it! See more on the Goalie section below.
Encourage your daughter to talk to me herself if she has any concerns or questions. Some may be too scared, and in those cases I’ll talk to parents directly, but they are at the age they can start learning to speak up for and advocate for themselves.
NO COACHING from the sidelines. It’s distracting to the players, it’s distracting to ME, and confusing for the girls. While it might be a good point, it also might go against what we’re working on, what I’ve taught them, what we’re doing at that moment.
I’ve always loved this article about talking to kids about the game on the ride home. I hope you’ll take a minute to read: https://changingthegameproject.com/the-ride-home-after-the-game/
Required for practices and games:
Molded Mouth guard - must be colored (no white or see through)
Clearly-labeled Water Bottle
Weather appropriate clothing (gloves, hats, rain jacket, long warm pants, multiple layers, etc)
NO JEWELRY is allowed on the lacrosse field. Taped earrings are not allowed per US Lacrosse rules.
For grass fields, girls should wear cleats - soccer cleats are fine. On turf, girls can wear sturdy sneakers, cleats or turfs of any kind. As the Coaching Director too, I am happy to answer any questions about sticks, goggles or any lacrosse gear.
PRACTICE INFORMATION / HOW TO ACCESS YOUR TEAM PAGE
Practice Schedule: All 5/6 teams practice 2x a week. Please reference your team’s web page for your practice schedule by clicking here: SCHEDULE. The closing of grass fields or Staples Lacrosse games on Ginny Parker will cause shifts to the schedule and may affect your practice location so be sure to check emails and your schedule.
Arrival/Pick-up time: Please arrive at least 10 minutes early for all practices and at least 30 minutes early for all games. Girls should be READY TO START = girls are dressed, goggles on, mouthguards in and ready to warm-up.
Please be on time to pick up your daughter after practice or make alternate arrangements for pickup. Your daughter cannot be left alone with only one coach. The coaches will wait until all girls are picked up.
Schedule/Team info/Website: Please familiarize yourself with your team page.
On our website, click on TEAM in the top banner. Choose your team, i.e. PAL Lacrosse 2021 > Travel > Team name.
In the left hand menu choose SCHEDULE.
On this page go to “Options” and select “Calendar Feed” to add your schedule to your personal electronic calendar.
Fields: Please Keep The Field Clean. We will ask all of the players to help clean up the field after each practice and game. Players will be asked to collect clothing, pick up balls/cones and to make sure all water bottles are removed from the field.
Practice is ON unless you receive a system notification. Practice changes will also be posted to your team page. Practice is only cancelled if there is lightning in the area or if temperatures are below freezing. We will try to send notifications by 2pm each day, but the coaches may make the call at the field if the weather changes. Please check your email often if there is questionable weather in the area.
Please note: Westport Parks and Rec is responsible for the fields and may close the grass fields. If we have a turf field or indoor space available, we may move the practice.
GOALIE POSITION ROTATION
Goalie is arguably the most important position on the field and the player must be very athletic. If there is not a designated goalie for your team, all girls will play goalie for at least ½ of a game during the season in a coach assigned rotation. If your daughter shows a talent OR an interest in the position, we encourage YOU to encourage HER in this position. Goalies are in high demand and well respected all through the lacrosse community. Don’t hold her back because of a lack of understanding of a goalie’s role.
THE RSVP SYSTEM
Two days before every scheduled game and practice you receive an RSVP notification from Westport PAL that you always need to respond to - it only takes a few seconds!
Click YES or NO to indicate if you are coming. Please do this for every game. Coaches will use this to plan starting lineups and game strategy so your participation is extremely valuable.
ATTENDANCE AND PLAYING TIME POLICIES
In addition to the RSVP system described above, please email your Head Coach, ASAP, to let her know of any absences or late arrival/early dismissal plans. Head coach emails can be found on your Team Page. Excused absences include school, religion, family and health. Anyone arriving late/leaving early may receive a partial deduction on their attendance. Unexcused or uncommunicated absences may result in less playing time.
Commitment, Attendance and Communication: PAL Lacrosse is a big supporter of playing multiple sports and we strongly believe players should not choose one sport to play, especially at a young age. Many of our coaches played 2 and 3 sports through high school and college and understand the challenges you and your daughters face as many sports increasingly become a year round commitment. However, in our prime spring season, we expect lacrosse to be put first over other sports and activities. Players are expected to attend 100% of team events including practices, games, team meetings, team dinners, program events (ie special Staples Varsity games) unless indicated as optional.
Playing Time: Playing time in the PAL girls program is given equally through the 6th grade level. At the A team and 7/8 levels we may play some players more in tougher games and make up the time for other players in less competitive games. Everyone will play in every half. Playing time could be affected based on attendance (as described above) and unsportsmanlike behavior or actions outside of the PAL code of conduct.
Positions: We encourage players to try and play multiple positions, especially in 3rd-6th grades. Not until 6th grade or later will most players start to specialize - as the coach sees fit. In 7th and 8th players can expect to play wherever their coach deems them best suited or most needed for the team.
Coaching Staff: Our coaching staff is on the field with your daughter because we love this game and sharing our knowledge and love of the sport with your daughters! We aim to build confidence, teach sportsmanship, teamwork, respect for opponents and refs and help girls find joy and life lessons on the lacrosse field. Our coaches will keep the girls safe and ensure that every one of them has a positive experience.
All PAL girls lacrosse coaches have taken several hours of formal training including Positive Coaching Alliance, Concussion Training, CONNY Lacrosse Rules Test, CPR and First Aid, Abuse Prevention Training, and a background check.
Some teams have high school players assisting. These girls love giving back and strive to be strong role models for your daughter to look up to. They share their love of playing and the dedication and commitment it takes to excel, face challenges and come out on top. They also share the unequaled joy and excitement in being a part of a team, working together to bring out the best in themselves and one another.
If you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to address the coaches. We encourage the girls to speak with coaches on their own behalf. However, if you still would like to speak to the coach, it is best to email them to arrange a time that works for you to speak. Please do not interrupt a practice or game for a personal conversation.
Please follow all COVID-19 protocols. If your player is sick, awaiting a test result (or that of a family member), is exposed as a close contact or is directed to quarantine by a school, she cannot attend Westport PAL Girls lacrosse events. In these instances, please notify
. For the most updated policies, please visit our website (click here).
PAL GIRLS LACROSSE PROGRAM GOALS
Have Fun - We want the girls to have a great time playing lacrosse! Lacrosse is known as "the fastest game on two feet" for a reason. Every player has the opportunity to create plays and make major contributions to the team. Our job is to make sure the players learn to love the game and they can only do that by enjoying both practice time and the games.
Be A Great Teammate / Good Sport - This is one of the core beliefs of the PAL program. Being a great teammate and showing good sportsmanship is required of all of us, parents included. We will teach the kids how to be great teammates, to encourage each other, to compete with 100% effort and to win or lose as a team and with class. Poor sportsmanship will not be tolerated at any time.
Play Hard - We expect 100% from the girls every time they take the field. Working hard is not mutually exclusive from having fun, and in fact usually the opposite is true. Coaches will never get on a player for making a bad throw, dropping a pass or making a bad play. What we will be less tolerant of is walking on the field in games or practices and not giving a full effort.
Learn The Fundamentals - Every player, whether at the 3/4th grade, 8th or at the collegiate level has to focus on fundamentals every day. The more practice they can do at home the better as stick skills are essential to their success. As the season starts out there are going to be a lot of errant passes, dropped balls and scrums around ground balls. It can be frustrating for the players but it is all part of the learning process. Please encourage your players to persevere as they learn the game. You cannot become a good lacrosse player without good stick skills.
Fundamentals Progression - We will focus every week on the fundamentals of catching and throwing, picking up ground balls, cradling/stick protection and the basics of how to play offense and defense. As the season progresses we will add more in terms of team offense and defense.
Important Note - It is critical to remember (please remind your child) that picking up ground balls and being able to make a pass is the most important part of the game. More often than not it is the player that does the little things that truly helps her team win a game as opposed to the player that puts the ball in the back of the net. Being a hard worker and a team player is far more important than scoring or winning.
Please be a positive influence from the sideline. We ask you to cheer on your daughter and her teammates.
Please note, parents are not allowed on the field or team sideline during practices or games unless they are keeping score, timing or are an official assistant.
Thank you for taking the time to read through this email and check out the website. If you have any questions at any time please contact me at
We look forward to a great season!
Girls Lacrosse Coaching Director and 5/6A Head Coach