The US Lacrosse Board of Directors recently endorsed the creation of a set of national standards for youth lacrosse leagues. These standards will form the basis for the US Lacrosse Gold Stick Program, which is currently in development.
These standards present a framework of operational and cultural benchmarks that establish high, but attainable, standards of quality and safety to which all lacrosse programs should aspire. Leagues, and eventually other entities such as camps, events and facilities, will be eligible to be part of the US Lacrosse Gold Stick Program.
US Lacrosse is working with a select number of leagues throughout the country to pilot the Gold Stick Program, which is anticipated to roll out nationally in the summer of 2013.
The Gold Stick Program is the next phase of the US Lacrosse effort to help improve the consistency of the youth lacrosse experience across the country, which included the development of age-appropriate national youth rules in 2012.
"There may be no more important element to inspire and ensure lengthy and enjoyable participation within youth lacrosse than establishing a safe and positive playing environment," said Joshua Christian, managing director of sport development for US Lacrosse. "We want and need leagues, coaches, parents and officials to place the youth players first and to embrace, and ultimately achieve, these standards."
The seven standards for leagues in the US Lacrosse Gold Stick Program are:
1. Rules: League must adhere to all current US Lacrosse youth rules and age guidelines, have them publicly available and regularly communicated to program coaches, administrators, and parents.
2. League Administration: League has current, written policies for league governance that are publically available and regularly communicated to program administrators, coaches, parents and players through a multi-faceted communication system.
3. Safety and Risk Management: League has written policies and plans for safety and risk management that are publicly available and regularly communicated to program coaches, administrators, and parents. Unless specifically noted, all policies are followed during all practices and games.
4. Player Safety and Sportsmanship: League demonstrates a commitment to the safety of their players by publishing and promoting current information related to healthy lacrosse activity. League provides a detailed, written sportsmanship policy to players, parents, coaches, officials and administrators.
5. Screened, Trained and Certified US Lacrosse Coaches: All head coaches are NCSI background checked, trained, and at least Level 1 certified through the US Lacrosse Coaching Education Program.
6. Trained/Certified US Lacrosse Officials: Leagues must require, at a minimum, that all officials assigned to league games are certified by US Lacrosse, and hold a current on-field rating or have gone through an on-field evaluation prior to any assignment to the program's contests. All contests (with the exception of U9 on a shortened field) will have a minimum of two officials assigned to each contest.
7. Membership: All players, coaches, officials and administrators are current US Lacrosse members.
For more information about the program, please visit www.uslacrosse.org/goldstick.