North Carolina's Longest Running E-Newsletter!

The Ducks Are Back!

The Ducks Youth Lacrosse League is the name of our Spring recreational lacrosse league with Team 91 Lacrosse. The league is open to boys in 1st-6th grade and players range in experience from those picking up a stick for the first time to some of the best youth lacrosse players in the South that have been playing at a travel team level for several years.

The Ducks can be a big undertaking for our staff. We will generally have teams practicing or playing games Monday-Saturday from mid-February to May. Our Team 91 Charlotte youth travel teams practice on Sundays throughout the Spring which means we will have something going on every day of the week. That’s a lot of schedules to manage, field contracts to navigate, practice plans to write and details to be communicated with families. With the Ducks running during the Spring college, high school and middle school lacrosse season, it can also be very challenging to find coaches. Everyone is spread thin!

Our staff (Rush and Jimmy) deserve a ton of credit for what they pull off to make the Spring rec season a great experience for all the kids playing

The Ducks season starts with what we call FUNdamentals week. Regardless of a player’s level of experience, we will use the first week of the rec lacrosse season to introduce and review the fundamental skills required to be a good lacrosse player. Week 1 is largely station-based practice plans where there will be a focus on throwing, catching, shooting, ground balls, dodging and playing defense. As the week progresses, we’ll start to introduce some small-sided competition like 3v2s or 4v3s as we build towards game like scenarios.

After FUNdamentals week, all of our players are split into teams that they will train and play with throughout the Spring season.

We have four teams at each age with the Ducks and how we create these rosters out of the pool of players can be more of an art than a science. We have to factor in ability, experience, size, grade, school and them things like teammate or carpool requests. We also have to factor in who we are playing against so that we can try to create a fun and competitive experience throughout the Spring for our players and the players we are playing against.

It is who we would be playing against in 2023 where things got interesting.

While there were some rec organizations that we could schedule games against this Spring, there was a shocking number of organizations that would not schedule rec games with us! Just to be clear, this is scheduling games for kids in the 1st-6th grade. We offered to travel to other rec organizations, we would host them, we would play on a weeknight, we would play on a weekend…we just wanted our kids to be able to play against a bunch of different teams. They all found a reason why they couldn’t play us, or they would make the logistical challenges beyond reasonable so a game wouldn’t happen.

There was also a common theme amongst all these groups that would not schedule games against us. They were somehow affiliated with a competing travel lacrosse organization.

  • 2 groups are run by competing travel programs and would not play us.
  • 2 groups are run by “directors” that work for competing travel programs and would not play us.
  • 1 group is run by a “director” who has children play for a competing travel lacrosse program.

If you ask the kids or parents at any of these rec programs, I would think most would say yes, they would love to play. Kids love to play new and different teams. In fact, some of these groups are playing each other three or four times instead of scheduling games against us! That’s not what kids or coaches want and the only way you can justify it is the directors did not want to schedule games.
Parents also generally want convenience for their son’s spring rec lacrosse games. A lot of these programs are asking their parents to drive past our fields, or travel in general, when we would have gladly gone to them all because the rec league director refused to schedule games no mattered how much we asked. That’s not really convenient for parents.

The best part? Other rec league directors refusing to schedule games worked our really well for us!

Because we have four teams at every age with the Ducks, we are able to set up our own league! Each team will play each other twice during the regular season before the Ducks Championship Series begins. We’ll play a semi-final then a championship (or consolation game) meaning that each team will get eight total games before we factor in our “external” games against other rec leagues. The guys that play on a Team 91 Charlotte team also get their travel team practices every Sunday. Our guys are getting more lacrosse in a more convenient way for parents than anyone else. That’s a good thing!

Playing a majority of our games in an “internal” league also helps us create a much better experience for our players and families. Obviously, our kids will love competing for a championship trophy. Every game will also be played under US Lacrosse Youth rules and with certified officials which is good for the sport and our players. No one has done more research on youth lacrosse rules than US Lacrosse, so we know that our guys are playing in the safest environment. By playing with US lacrosse rules and certified officials, we can work closely with the officials before and after the games in a constructive way to continue to help the officiating in our area improve overall. We want to be partners with the officials and we prove it with our actions and our investment in supporting their development.

We’re also able to create a great competitive atmosphere for our guys. When we schedule games against other rec leagues, we don’t know what to expect. We can play a great team or we can play a relatively newer team. It’s been very unpredictable over the years. With the Ducks, we know what we can usually expect from every player. In our first two weeks of games, the largest score differential has been three goals; in turn we've had multiple one-goal or overtime results; that’s really good!

I cannot tell you how many times we have had to put in “weak hand” rules or “3+ pass” rules for our guys over the years just to keep games competitive. To play 12 games internally over the first two weeks and have every game finish within three goals is a great indicator of the competitive balance in the league. Our guys will love playing close games all Spring!

My favorite part is the level of instruction we can provide to our players. Since the Ducks league is all our guys, our coaches are incredibly engaged in every game and practice. During these games, I was on one end of the field working with the attackmen and defenseman on that end, we had another coach doing the same with the attackmen and defenseman on the other end then one of our directors, Jimmy, was in the middle of the field working with our midfielders. That’s all in addition to the 2-3 coaches we had on each sideline coaching up the teams. That’s an incredible environment for development!

We are off to a great start with the 2023 Ducks season and couldn’t be more excited to watch our guys continue to grow, develop and compete this Spring!


P.S. – We’ve also kicked off our Spring free clinics! Know a player that wants to try lacrosse? Send them out to a free clinic.
You can learn more here: