Woodchuck Lacrosse is taking offseason development inside the box

Sports

Barre-based lacrosse program introduces players to a new style of play

There’s a new way to play summer lacrosse in Central Vermont.

Woodchuck Lacrosse, based out of Barre, has gone all-in on box lacrosse this summer. Owner and Director Ian Thomas stressed the importance of giving players a chance to keep playing lacrosse during the offseason, while also exposing them to a new style of play.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Thomas said. “It’s a lot of action. The ball never goes out of bounds.”

That’s just one example of the differences between box lacrosse and field lacrosse, of which there are plenty:

  • Box lacrosse is usually played in a hockey rink without ice (200’x90′), while field lacrosse is played on a 330’x180′ field
  • Box lacrosse goals are 4’x4′ compared to a 6’x6′ field lacrosse goal
  • Box lacrosse is played 6-on-6 (five players and a goalie), while field lacrosse is played 10-on-10 (nine players and a goalie)
  • Box lacrosse goalies are much more heavily padded, and box lacrosse “runners” wear rib pads and larger bicep pads
  • There is no “offsides” rule in box lacrosse

The enclosed box lacrosse field of play offers more of a chance to develop passing skills, since players don’t have to be afraid of losing possession by throwing a ball out of bounds.

“Kids in field lacrosse miss a lot of passes,” Thomas said. “Naturally you’re getting more reps from a younger age, and it keeps you in tune to what’s going on in the game. No matter where you are in the arena, you can find the ball.”

Thomas and Woodchuck branched out from a purely developmental model into the first fully-sanctioned USBOXLA league this summer with the creation of the Vermont Box Lacrosse League (VBLL). The high school league formed with three teams: two based out of the North Barre Rink and a third based out of Middlebury’s Memorial Sports Center. A two-team middle school league was also created and played exclusively out of North Barre Rink.

The two playing sites offered a unique experience to players, since the North Barre Rink is an outdoor, grass-covered surface and the Memorial Sports Center is a traditional indoor concrete surface.

As interest grows, Thomas hopes to expand the VBLL to sites all across the state and adopt more of a regional model, and have teams come together for an end-of-season tournament to crown a VBLL champion. Current players like Barre native Colby Berard see that as a very strong possibility.

“it’s going to be huge,” Berard said. “I think from there, we can create youth leagues, junior leagues and senior leagues. We’ll be able to bring people together and I just think it’s going to be huge.”

The VBLL has wrapped up this summer, but Woodchuck Lacrosse has a travel team playing in the NEBLL through the end of August, and the schedule concludes with Woodchuck hosting teams from Massachusetts and Maine on Sunday, Aug. 29 at North Barre Rink.

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