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McDowell Middle School Girls Lacrosse is a fun, educational, and competitive lacrosse program for Erie-area girls in grades 4–8.
We are a club team, so our middle school program is open to any girl who wants to play: you do not have to be a Millcreek resident or attend a Millcreek school! We welcome girls from the city, county, and parochial schools.
We are strong supporters of lacrosse in Erie. We love the sport, and we truly believe in its power to positively impact the young women who play it. McDowell Girls Lacrosse is dedicated to teaching young players the fundamental skills they need to succeed in the sport. But lacrosse is more than just a sport to us: it's also a chance for the girls to make new friends, to learn how to play together as a team, to see the results of hard work and dedication, and to have fun!
Keep reading to learn more about our program. If you are interested in joining McDowell Girls Lacrosse, register for fall ball and the off-season. Registering entails no cost or obligation. It lets us know that you're interested, and it will allow you to receive emails from the club about upcoming dates and events!
If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact us! Many of us have been with the middle school program for five years, and we always love to talk about the program!
Our Program
Our season is divided into three sessions. There is no obligation to do all three: you are welcome to begin playing for the club during any of these sessions!
Fall Ball
September and October
If you are new to lacrosse, fall ball is a great time to get involved! We focus on introducing players to the game and teaching fundamentals. We practice twice a week at the MYAA fields on West 15th Street. Practices are Wednesday, 5:30–7:00, and Sunday 1:00–2:30. Practices start on September 4 and run through the third week in October. We also compete in at least one tournament: the Colonial Classic at Robert Morris University, which is usually the third Saturday in October. Cost: There is no fee to participate in fall ball, but there are a couple of expenses: $30 for a McDowell Girls Lacrosse pinnie that you will wear at the tournament — the pinnie is yours to keep — and a registration fee for the tournament (probably around $50). We have sticks and goggles that girls can borrow at the first few practices, but every player must bring her own mouth guard. Players cannot practice without goggles and mouth guards! See below for more information on equipment.
Winter Practices and Conditioning
January and February
These are twice-weekly indoor practices. Our goal during the winter is to continue working on the girls' skills and to prepare them for the upcoming spring season. This session is optional, but most girls choose to participate so that they can continue to improve their skills. Cost: Free!
Spring Season
March, April and May
This is our official season: The girls compete against other teams; the club provides all players with uniforms (see the pictures above); and practices begin to focus on more-advanced strategies.
We practice twice a week, at the MYAA fields on 15th Street (near Giant Eagle in the Yorktown Plaza). Last season our practices were Tuesdays and Thursdays, 5:30–7:30, but days and times are subject to change.
We have games every weekend, either Saturday or Sunday (but never both). We have a couple of home games, but because there are no other middle school programs in the area (except for Fairview), we often travel, typically to the Pittsburgh area. We have two types of game days: play days and tournaments. Play days are informal collections of games that we set up with one or two other schools. We also play two tournaments: the WPSLA tournament, a competitive tournament featuring teams from western Pennsylvania, and the Baggataway tournament, a festival-style tournament in Medina, OH.
You can look at last year's schedule to get a sense of what our season looks like. All that travel can be a little intimidating to new families! But we never travel more than two hours; the play days and tournaments allow not only the girls but also the parents to bond and have a good time; and we have a ride coordinator to help out with girls who need rides to play days.
Cost: $200 club fee. We are a parent- run organization, and we receive no outside funding. The club fees cover all of the expenses involved in running our spring season: coaches' salaries, referee fees, trainer fees (for home games), each girl's US Lacrosse registration, and tournament entry fees. There is also a $75 deposit for the uniform, but as long as we get the uniform back at the end of the season, we do not cash that check.
We offer several fundraising opportunities in the fall and winter, and a portion of each player's fundraising goes directly toward her dues. We have had players who have completely covered their club fees through fundraising!
Frequently Asked Questions
My daughter has never played lacrosse before, and I have never seen a game. Can you tell me a little about the sport?
Lacrosse is one of the fastest-growing sports in America. In 2016, 825,000 high school and college students played lacrosse, up from 250,000 in 2001. In 2016, colleges added 34 new lacrosse programs. There were 23 new programs in 2017, and there will be another 17 new programs in 2018.
Women's lacrosse is a fun, fast-paced, high-scoring game. We've put together a collection of YouTube videos to introduce you to the sport:
What equipment does my daughter need?
There are three essentials: a women's lacrosse stick, a pair of goggles, and a mouthguard.
The club owns sticks that your daughter can borrow when she first starts — that way, she can decide whether she likes the sport before you invest in a stick. Sticks range from $30 starter sticks to $250+ high-end sticks. The starter sticks are perfect for beginners.
You will have to purchase a mouthguard, which you can find at Dick's for $10–20. You will also need to purchase goggles, which you can buy for as little as $30.
Does my daughter need to attend a Millcreek school to play?
No! We are a parent-run club team, so girls from any school can play! We have had players from the city, county, and parochial schools on our team. We welcome all girls in grades 4–8!
Who should I contact if I have questions?
Visit our contact page — you're looking at over 30 years of combined lacrosse knowledge and experience! Josh Bischof is the middle school coordinator and scheduler. Lynn Netkowicz is our long-time team mom: she has a wealth of knowledge from a parent's point of view. And Lori Bischof is our fundraising and gear expert: if you have any questions about which googles or stick to order, she's the person to contact!
My daughter tried lacrosse but got frustrated quickly. Do you have any advice?
Like any sport, lacrosse has a set of fundamental skills that girls must learn. Those skills are catching, passing, and cradling. And like anything that you want to get good at, those three skills require lots of practice to master. Even girls who have been playing lacrosse for years work every day to hone their fundamentals!
The game can be frustrating for girls who haven't yet become adept at passing and catching. But there are some things your daughter can do to get better. First, wall ball, wall ball, wall ball! YouTube has many videos that explain different routines. Second, pass with a friend or a parent! Passing with your daughter will give you a sense of how tricky passing and catching can be at first! Third, enroll in a local camp or clinic. Your daughter will receive top-notch instruction from current players and college coaches. And fourth, ask lots of questions! We have over 50 families with multiples years of experience in the club, and they love to talk about lacrosse!
I've seen "12U" and "14U" in various places. What do those mean?
US Lacrosse, the sport's governing body, has developed a system of age segmentation to ensure that the game is always fair and developmentally appropriate. Broadly speaking, our 14U team is for girls in grades 7 and 8, and our 12U team is for girls in grades 4, 5 and 6. Experienced 12U girls are allowed to "play up" with the 14U team, but 14U girls are not allowed to play down. When we create our spring schedule, we strive to provide games for both our younger and our older players.