A Needham player puts a shot on goal in the first half of their first game against Medfield.
By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter
In the first game of a double-header for the Needham Youth Lacrosse team on Saturday morning, the Rockets wore gold while Medfield wore blue. In the second game, Needham flipped their pinnies to dark blue while Medfield moved to white. Whether it was down to this uniform switch, or shaking the rust off later in the day, or the few Needham players who left after the first game, although no scores were being kept, Medfield was much more competitive in the second matchup.
Still, had someone been keeping a tally, Needham would easily have won both games.
But that’s not what was important about getting these games in.
While many people have rightfully been concerned with what a year without in-person learning has done to children, and how it may have exacerbated differences between Americans who could afford tutors or stay home to help with remote learning and those who couldn’t, youth sports are dealing with a similar issue.
When asked if the players showed signs of rust, one of Needham’s coaches, Andrew Abraham, noted: “The kids that don’t play club lacrosse are certainly behind in their skill, but you know, they’re making up for it and they’re having a lot of fun.” When pressed on how many kids played at the club level, he noted: “I can only speak for Needham, but I know we have four or five out of twenty, so around twenty percent.”
It was tough to find that rust on Saturday when Needham seemed to be scoring at will against Medfield. But while many sports have looked completely different due to COVID restrictions - for example, in soccer, players have to take indirect free kicks and are not allowed to throw the ball in - according to Abraham, although some kids have face shields on their helmets, the only big restriction is having to wear masks. There are some age-related differences, though, most notably that all the players use “attack” sticks except for the goalies.
As for the crowd at Medfield's Hospital Road, there was an adult softball game happening at the nearby baseball field, some people playing catch, one small child who brought a bubble hockey board and was playing it on a rock, and one kid had a very cool Yoda hood on. Most crowd members had brought lawn chairs, although many opted to sit on the wooden fence around the parking lot. As for masks, far more crowd members were wearing them than weren’t, despite the new CDC guidelines that opened the door for vaccinated people to go without masks while outdoors.
But while it’s easy to get bogged down worrying about whether kids who played club lacrosse are ahead in their development, or how states that didn’t lock down as hard may eventually see a boost in athletic performances and college scholarships way down the road, Abraham kept everything in perspective with his overall thoughts on the game.
“I thought the kids played hard and had fun, so it was great.”