Lacrosse Takes Hold in a Boston Harbor Peninsula Community

PHOTO COURTESY OF HULL LACROSSE


This article appears in the New England edition of of USA Lacrosse Magazine. Help fuel the future of the sport and have the magazine delivered right to your mailbox by becoming a USA Lacrosse member today.

The tiny town of Hull is known for many things, from its views of the Boston skyline from the southern edge of Boston Harbor, to the wind turbines at Pemberton Point, its popular resort community of Nantasket Beach and being the summer homes to former president Calvin Coolidge and former Boston mayor John F. Fitzgerald. 

And now, the fourth-smallest town in Massachusetts is making a name for itself as a lacrosse community.

That’s not always been the case. Baseball ruled the youth sports landscape for years and the few in town who wanted to play lacrosse had to travel to neighboring Scituate and Hingham to do so.

That was true of Michelle Leary’s daughter, Allison, and her friends, Maggie Mullen and Erin Walsh, until about five years ago. “When they were a little older, they said, ‘We want to play with our own friends. We don’t want to play for another town anymore,’” Leary said. “One of the moms said, ‘Hey, why don’t you start a girls’ program?’ And I said, ‘OK, I can do that. I don’t know how to do it. I know nothing about the sport.’”

At the time, Leary said her sole motivation was to get a team formed for Allison and her friends to play on, which is why she joined the Hull Lacrosse board. But once she met the other board members who were trying to get the lacrosse flag waving in their town, Leary was hooked. 

She specifically mentioned Chris Weber, who was one of the first to try to get a boys’ program off the ground more than a decade ago. “And he’s still with us. He’s still on that board because he still wants to see the program grow,” Leary said. “He’s a gift.”

Leary said there’s been a steady increase year over year with registration to the point where they had 127 players a year ago and reintroduced the boys’ program. 

This year, there’s been a boon with 145 players from grades 1-8 registered.

“We’ve seen quite an increase. You have to keep in mind Hull is such a small town,” Leary said. “The average class size is like 60 people in a grade, so it’s all relative and how many participants you get in a sport.”

Now Leary said there’s a team at each grade level and the boys’ 7-8 grade could have fielded two teams had their league allowed it. The same was true of the girls’ grades 1-2 and 3-4.

“We have kids wanting to join that have never played a sport before. The atmosphere and the camaraderie amongst the team is just so great that if they’re going to try anything, then they’re going to try this,” Leary said. “It’s truly amazing. I love it. … We’ve had so many more parents get involved and so many more board members join just because it’s a growing sport and it’s exciting and it’s fun. Who doesn’t want to be involved? Everyone does. It’s great.”

The impetus of this year’s participation growth, Leary said, were clinics Hull Lacrosse hosted in town, specifically the Pick Up and Play clinics as part of USA Lacrosse’s National Celebrate Lacrosse Week in November, which drew 150 participants.

“The equipment that was offered was truly a gift because kids who never would have participated were able to because we had all that equipment,” Leary said. “The surrounding communities that helped us — Scituate, we formed quite a bond with them during the clinic —they want to see Hull succeed.”

Leary said she vividly remembers sitting at the gates of Finlayson Field in awe of how many kids came for the Pickup and Play event.

“Seeing people lined up around the fence line to get into our field to play lacrosse was just such a feel-good moment, like wow, this is happening and it’s happening here in small little Hull,” Leary said. “It was great.”

Leary is the director of the girls’ program for Hull Lacrosse, which recently added a boys’ director because of the spike in registration.

As for Allison Leary, Maggie Mullen and Erin Walsh, who never intended to be trendsetters, they’re in eighth grade now, pumped about their final year in the program. 

“They’re excited to continue to play,” Leary said. “They’re looking forward to playing for the high school. So that’s where their minds are at now. We’re going to have a great season this year. We want to be super competitive. And we can’t wait to play for our high school next year.”

With the regular season here, Michelle Leary knew where she would be come April 3. 

“Just watching them all play is amazing,” Leary said. “Especially to see them play on our own home turf is pretty exciting. I have to say.”







NEW ENGLAND SPOTLIGHT

CONNECTICUT

The Connecticut-New York Youth Lacrosse Association (CONNY) is experiencing new thought leadership and energy. USA Lacrosse is working with key league program leaders and board members to identify opportunities for creating greater relevance, inclusion and energy to grow and revamp one of the United States’ largest youth sports programs.

MAINE

After two years of the damaging impact the pandemic had on the Maine Youth Lacrosse League, USA Lacrosse worked to help the league rebuild its leadership. This strong statewide league with 23 programs and some 2,500 kids now has a dynamic new president who has worked to reconstitute a diverse leadership team. The league is looking forward to a great 2022 season and beyond. 

MASSACHUSETTS

USA Lacrosse is working with the Mass Bay Youth Lacrosse League to bring the game to the Brockton sports community, including a Sankofa Clinic Series event coming this fall to introduce lacrosse to an underserved community with a great history of community-based football and basketball programs.

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