On this week’s episode of New England Lacrosse Journal’s “Chasing the Goal” podcast, hosts Kyle Devitte and Jack Piatelli welcome the founder of Scoops Lacrosse.
A Cohasset, Mass., native, Matt Belson played his college ball at Division 1 Lafayette before joining the corporate world as an advertising executive. One day after training with his son in the backyard, Belson had a revelation and went on to create an entirely new way of teaching the game of lacrosse to the youngest of players.
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Jack Piatelli: What I was so impressed with, observing the program, was that you got a bunch of kids that were 3- to 9-years-old, 50-60 of those kids all on one field and they all have a lacrosse stick in their hands. You got them dancing, you’ve got them playing air guitar on their sticks — and they’re learning the skill sets of lacrosse without even realizing it. And they having so much fun!
Matt Belson: That’s just it. They’re having fun. Any good player … like Jack, your two sons, they’re awesome players because they love the sport. They like being on the field; they’re having fun.
Kyle Devitte: I’m so impressed that you can get that many kids — over 100 in one location — to all pay attention. I can’t even do that with normal people; how do you do that with young kids?
MB: It’s crazy when you see the whole group lined up. But what we’re doing … I don’t think I’m reinventing anything. What I’m doing is that I’m trying to get their attention through the first minute of what we do. First, when they come in, We put two stickers on their sticks. When I put the stickers on their sticks, I ask, “Do you know why we’re putting stickers on your stick?” and I say, “It’s really good branding!” I’m just kidding, we put the stickers there so they know where to put their hands when they pick up the stick.
JP: I think what Scoops does for these young kids is that it takes them away from the iPads and TV and the video games. It allows them to go out and run around and a kid. When I was a kid we went to the park and ran around for four or five hours a day. Watching Scoops reminded me of how I grew up. Kids can’t wait to get back to Scoops. When you ended the session I was at, you had parents coming up asking when the next one was and if you were going to do it in the winter.
MB: One of the things that is neat about it is that when I started this, I got really excited about the culture of youth sports. Unfortunately, I think some of the youth sports have gone the other way with it. There’s a lot of pressure. There’s a lot of financial commitment. There’s a lot of travel. Some of it is good as the kids get older, if they want to do it, but at that really young age it should be pure. It should be fun.
I tried to think about how to make games that are fun, but competitive. At the younger ages, they love competing against one another. In life, there is going to be winners and there are going to be losers, right? But now I have the opportunity to win with humility and lose with grace. How to shake hands before you start playing. These are young kids learning how to shake hands and look each other in the eyes, then go do a relay race and root each other on.