Meet the JGLA: The Largest Girls-Only Youth Lacrosse Org. in the Country

The JGLA supports thousands of girls across New Jersey, with over 120 towns represented.

The Jersey Girls Lacrosse Association prides itself on being the largest girls-only youth lacrosse organization in the country.

Its growth has slowed in recent years. Few untapped areas remain. But the JGLA remains best in class in providing opportunities for girls from third to eighth grade to play lacrosse, as it has over the last two decades. With 126 active towns from Central to North Jersey, the JGLA supports thousands of girls, and they provide strong instruction with more US Lacrosse Coach Development Program Level 1-certified coaches in the women’s game than any other girls’ league in the U.S.

“The purpose of JGLA was to begin youth lacrosse in our area of New Jersey,” said Tamara Floruss, the fifth-year president of the JGLA. “Back then, lacrosse was just beginning at the high school level. Even now, we don’t have a lot of middle school programs. And there were no clubs. So youth lacrosse was the feeding program.”

The JGLA is aligned into six conferences. It supports three levels of lacrosse — a top level called Select, a second level called Travel, and a third level of rec. Select began as a way to introduce checking at the youth level, but now it amounts to an A-level team for the JGLA’s most serious players. Travel level teams are balanced, not tiered into A and B, and they also offer the chance to play with full or modified checking. Rec teams rarely travel to other towns.

“One of the bonuses is it’s recreational lacrosse at all levels,” Floruss said. “It’s supposed to have that element of having fun and learning lacrosse. JGLA is to get lacrosse out there and it’s to get kids who want to play and just love the game. We’ve honed in on sportsmanship in recent years, because that’s becoming a bigger issue. Most of our clubs in the area don’t play a spring season. That’s helped. But they’re starting to creep in.”

In JGLA towns where lacrosse isn’t that big, not many players are leaving their rec programs, so there’s little impact. And where lacrosse is very popular, there’s enough of a foundation of players that even when some leave for travel opportunities, it doesn’t make a big dent.

“The middle teams,” Floruss said, “that’s where they might be struggling.”

Overall, the growth of the JGLA has plateaued. Most of the towns in the JGLA area already have lacrosse, and urban groups are coming on board.

“The girls’ lacrosse growth in New Jersey was so big,” Floruss said. “We’ve finally hit a time where it’s slowed down. We’ve added about three towns in the last two or three years, where I was adding 5-10 teams per year for probably a five-year window.”

The JGLA still is going strong, and still offering opportunities and the right foundation for introducing the game to a wide variety of abilities.

“We have an idea of togetherness, of trying to get everyone on the same page and get them to understand this is the time to have fun,” Floruss said. “The league doesn’t keep win-loss records. That takes the pressure element out of it, and they’re just supposed to have fun. There aren’t records or playoffs. It’s about playing in the moment.”

That mentality continues to the conclusion of the year, when the JGLA sponsors a season-ending jamboree. Teams send three eighth-graders apiece — not necessarily their best players — to enjoy what amounts to a large-scale play day.

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