Lacrosse program focuses on ‘whole girl’

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“All girls, for girls” is the concept that Kerri Kelleher puts forward when it comes to the new Flare Lacrosse program.

Kelleher – who has been coaching Cranston youth lacrosse for a number of years and also coaches lacrosse at Providence Country Day School – created the program with the opportunity for a girls’ lacrosse tournament team in Rhode Island in mind.

“Flare Lacrosse is the only tournament program for girls right now in the state of Rhode Island,” she said. “Other clubs, located elsewhere, are full of Rhode Island players, but this is the only opportunity to be a part of [lacrosse] here in the Ocean State.”

The program – which, according to its website – “support[s] all girls as they take their play to the next level” – goes beyond just fostering the athletic abilities of the players. Kelleher said the “social and emotional needs of young ladies” has a role in what takes place on the field.

“Girls need support on the field, but also in their day-to-day lives,” she said. “We support their development as athletes, students and young women.”

Aside from empowering the players on the field and in their personal lives, the program also offers training in coaching for the juniors and seniors on the team.

According to Kelleher, the program helps develop the older players into “role models” for the younger members of the team. She said by doing so, the girls gain more confidence in themselves.

She cited Allison Rivard, a junior at Providence Country Day, as an example. Rivard is a goalie for the school’s lacrosse team and was No. 2 in the state this past season, according to Kelleher. She said that the junior helped with coaching at the tournaments the Flare Lacrosse team attended, such as one in Stowe, Vermont.

“She is a shy kid, but coaching younger girls has really given her confidence that she didn’t have before,” Kelleher said. “She is doing great work with our youth goalies.”

Another member of the program, Rose DiSandro, is also learning the way of coaching. DiSandro is also a junior at Providence Country Day and “was one of the lead scorers” at the school, Kelleher said.

“She is a driven athlete with a great personality and a lot of pizzazz, which the girls love,” she said.

According to Kelleher, the trainees are undergoing the work through the U.S. Lacrosse programs. She added that through this, they will become level-one certified. She said certification includes three different levels and “run[s] through the National Federation of High Schools, as well as from lots of other organizations.”

“Just because you’re a great player does not mean you will be a great coach,” Kelleher said. “So they have been working hard to make sure they are communicating skills in a variety of ways so the girls process and understand.”

The program is offered to fifth- and sixth-graders, seventh- and eighth-graders, and freshmen and sophomores. Juniors and seniors can also participate. Kelleher said that the program aims to keep the cost affordable for families. Currently, the cost is approximately $500 for a season, which she said covers “field rental, insurance, tournament fees, etc.”

Kelleher added that right now, the program is hosting “Summer Nights” pickup games at Doric Park in Cranston on Thursday nights. She said on Aug. 25 there will be a fall team tryout, and during the upcoming season, the team will be going to tournament games in Maryland, New Jersey and New York.

In the past, the team has played games in Stowe, Vermont, and Groton, Massachusetts. The program is open to players from all of Rhode Island and southern Massachusetts, according to its website.

Kelleher said she is “excited about the concept” and hopeful for its success.

“I had a great group of girls. I just wanted to allow them to have the opportunity to experience some tournament play,” she said. “To see 75 girls showing up through the course of Thursday night for pickup games is just awesome.”

For more information regarding the Flare Lacrosse program, visit flarelacrosse.com.

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