Central PA Club Winning with Lacrosse Athlete Development Model

This article appears in the Western Mid-Atlantic version of our April edition. Don’t get the mag? Join US Lacrosse today to start your subscription.

There are a lot of numbers that jump out to Katie Bergey, but the one that jumps out the most regarding Team Money is 100.

And no, we’re not talking about the $100 bill design you might find on a uniform.

One-hundred percent of the players from 2018 will be back in 2019. Team Money, based in Central Pennsylvania, is a boys’ club program that started by accident in 2014 and now has teams ranging from the graduating class of 2023 through 2028. All 61 players from last year are returning, and the club added 39 new players for this year.

Why are they coming back? Is it the wins? 

Not according to Bergey, who is the club’s director.

Team Money has been successful on the field. The oldest team went 29-3 last season and a U11 team went 10-0 this winter against more established programs, but Bergey thinks the wins are a byproduct of doing things the right way and following a mindset that puts the players first.

It’s always been about the players. The first event was when Bergey’s husband, Josh, scrambled together a last-minute team to fill out a tournament bracket. The kids, wearing donated pinnies from Lightning Wear that had $100 bills as the design, had so much fun that they put together a team for another tournament, and it’s grown from there.

Just as was the case for that event in 2014, most of the Team Money players come from Cumberland Valley Youth Lacrosse, which began implementing US Lacrosse Athlete Development Model principles in 2017 and became fully aligned last year.

“We’re about a third of the cost of other clubs, we have no cuts at the elementary-school level and we use fair playing time,” Bergey said. “Our practices are all LADM-aligned using a station-based approach.”

The success is all the more remarkable given the team’s location. Josh Bergey was a national champion and All-American at Salisbury, but finding a coach with that much of a lacrosse background is the anomaly in the region.

“This is a first-generation sport here,” Katie Bergey said. “Many of these parents have never even seen lacrosse, and now their kids are playing it.”

That’s made the resources provided by US Lacrosse all the more valuable. All of the coaches go through training from the US Lacrosse Coach Development Program. The LADM curriculum from US Lacrosse provides practice guidelines and plans that can easily be implemented.

“The coaches follow same core values and go through US Lacrosse training,” Bergey said. “The key is going out and finding people who are bought in. It all starts from coaching. With the practice guidelines and plans, we can take a phenomenal soccer coach and help them become a phenomenal lacrosse coach.”

The LADM approach has helped develop quality lacrosse players that allow the club to utilize principles like fair playing time, because everyone can contribute. 

“We’re seeing consistently high-level lacrosse players coming from this,” Bergey said. “They’re having fun and the parents are committed to the process because they see us investing in all of the kids. We’re treating it more like an educational system.”

Part of that system is following all six core values of the LADM, including multi-sport participation. Even though Team Money has activities throughout the year — Bergey refers to it as a la carte lacrosse — it strongly encourages its athletes to play other sports. No player loses his spot because he plays another sport out of season, and the in-season sport always takes precedence.

All of it adds to a winning formula, both on and off the field.

“It feels really good,” Bergey said. “The families are so impacted by it. The letters and cards we get and the responses to surveys show they’re having a really positive youth sports experience. It’s just heartwarming.”

Learn more about the Lacrosse Athlete Development Model at uslacrosse.org/ladm.

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