I find it interesting that I feel the need to write about the state of what we see in lacrosse in Pittsburgh. As a background, both Andy and I have been involved in lacrosse in western PA for a long time. Andy since the early 1980's and me the 1990ish. Oh, I guess that makes us pretty experienced (or old). Both coaching at all levels and playing. Interesting how programs always make it sound like the game is changing. Last I checked an overhand shot was still preferred and defense still slides.
In particular, we started Arrows programs in 2010. We added the Gorillas program around 2014, Saints in 2015, and the girls Lighting program in 2015 also. Our constant and reaching goal is to teach athletes of all levels the game of lacrosse. From beginners to advanced players we have always been a program that welcomes all athletes. Another goal has also been to foster the lacrosse community at large. We want to continue to grow the game to the next generation of players. The bottom line for us is that lacrosse is about the kids, families, safety, and fun. Not about the money. We have careers for that. We have great relationships with a number of other programs in the area and work together to help each other out. We appreciate and respect those programs and feel that is mutual.
Over the last few years, we have begun to see a shift in lacrosse in Pittsburgh. That togetherness seems to be changing with the advent of some new programs. A couple of them we have tried to work with and some we do. We learned that some have good intentions and do well. Others not so much. Hey, it's America and everyone has an opportunity to give things a shot. A lot of time people also like stuff that is flashy and new so they will bite on it. Many times they end up disappointed. I have always been taught that if something sounds too good to be true it usually is. So when you're out there looking for places to play please do your homework. Ask some hard questions. How long have you been in existence? Do you provide background checks on coaches? What's your coaching philosophy? Who owns your company? Local or out of state? What's your refund policy? Do you abide by US Lacrosse memberships rules? Why does the name of your organization keep changing names or switching what your programs are called? Beyond the questions do some internet searches, check with the Better Business Bureau to see if they have a positive rating. Do not blindly walk into a program because another parent says it's great. I have seen programs reduce fees to pay for recruiting kids. That’s kinda sad.
See what we have found is a number of programs skirt the edge of existence. They make everything sound really great. They use cool terminology and social media to make a perception that they are really awesome. Under the "Hood" things are not that great. They make things sound big and exciting, but in reality, only a few players attend or they struggle to get teams together. They are always chasing the next event way in advance to pay for the ones currently going on and have a long line of people they owe money to. They ignore emails and phone calls. They change names or directors to make it seem everything will be better or different when parents get upset. In the end, they just end up disappointing the kids. I would also be highly cautious of being told you have to play for a program to be "seen" by your high school coach because they are on staff with the program. Any good high school coach will tell you at Varsity their 16-18 best players will be on the field regardless of who they play off-season ball with.
With that all being said we feel that the longevity of our program and a couple of others in Western PA are an attribute to running our programs fairly and treating people the way we want to be treated. As mentioned above we want kids to have fun and be safe. We want lacrosse to be a foundation for kids to learn great life lessons. Sports can teach those lessons through hard work. We price our programs fairly and offer what we feel is reasonable. We understand families are on a budget and children's activities can be costly. We have children also. We make sure our coaches share this worldview with us. I hope this bit of info is helpful to you and know that you can always reach us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call at 412-860-6486 to answer your questions.