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The Student News Site of Denmark High School

Denmark Unleashed

The Student News Site of Denmark High School

Denmark Unleashed

Denmark’s Bright Athletic Future: Youth Lacrosse

Student posing for a lacrosse picture (Leigh Anne Turner)

With the 2023-2024 lacrosse season starting at Denmark, a variety of new and bright faces show up on tryout day. Returning players step onto the field with promising leadership. And freshmen, although a little nervous, can’t wait to start off their first lacrosse season here at Denmark. Meanwhile, Denmark Lacrosse’s program has branched out and started its feeder program several years ago, beginning with just one U11 team to this year, with five total teams: 4 boys teams and the first ever girls team. The feeder team develops young players; it provides them with experience and a familiarity of the program, staff, and potential future teammates. 

One of these young stars is Brooke McDaniel, an 8th grader at DeSana Middle. She is an active participant of the first girls youth team for Denmark Lacrosse and is thrilled for her future here at Denmark. Her participation in the first ever girls youth team in lacrosse is a statement on its own. McDaniel thinks that being a part of this program will help future girls get more excited to play and that it would help the program flourish. She is most ecstatic about “playing with a new group of girls and making new friends while playing a sport I love.” McDaniel’s biggest focus right now is improving her dodges to be able to get around defenders to score. Her passion for lacrosse sparked from working with her teammates to improve and grow as players. Although being a rising freshman is not easy, she knows what is ahead of her and feels well prepared. The program itself has helped her feel more at ease with how future practices and games will be like. McDaniel predicts that “the biggest difference between youth and high school lacrosse will be how much more dedication and commitment that practice and games will bring.” She adds that she cannot wait to see what the season brings.

Being a middle schooler involved in a high school feeder team has many advantages including the relationships you make during the season. Their feeder teammates most likely become their high school teammates as well, developing chemistry between each one of them. They make lifelong friendships and grow with each other in the program. In addition to the relationships they make with their teammates, they also grow a relationship with their potential coaches. The young Danes are encouraged to develop connections with their feeder coaches and future high school coaches, and feeder teams take advantage of that for them. It provides them with a path to follow in order to become successful in Varsity sports as a high schooler. 

“The biggest difference between youth and high school lacrosse will be how much more dedication and commitment that practice and games will bring.”

One of the highlights of this expanding program is the coaches involved, one being Coach Gilbertson. When asked what he loves the most about being a coach of youth lacrosse, Gilbertson responded, “I’m really just a big kid that loves being on the field.” With his passion for coaching and playing, he inspires this within his players as well. He states that fundamentals are important in developing young athletes, but has a plan beyond just the development of the sport skills. Most of all, Gilbertson wants to develop resilience in his players and show them the benefits of being a part of a team. “The game of lacrosse can teach a lot about the game of life,” he states. Creativity mixed with fundamentals can help an athlete become successful in all levels. Building exposure on top of all this helps kids improve their confidence and take it to the next level. Gilbertson says that all the coaches love teaching new players and “giving them the confidence to apply their athleticism to the fastest sport on two feet.” 

Teammates posing for a photo (Leigh Anne Turner).

Although lacrosse itself can be an intimidating sport for kids to come join, he encourages them to push themselves outside of their comfort zone because they have potential to become successful in the game. Being the first coach ever to start this program at Denmark, his end goal is to provide the best lacrosse experience in Forsyth County, inspire players to love the game, and build a community that is engaged and active coming into the future.

With the game of lacrosse growing in the world today, the future has much to offer these young athletes. By being provided with feeder programs and connections, the youth is given opportunities to help them fulfill their potential and get them to their dreams. Every exhibition game, scrimmage, and practice matters in the development of an athlete, and the Denmark youth lacrosse teams take full advantage of that for the future of the youth.

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About the Contributor
Hannah Lopez, Staff
If I could, I would spend all my time on the court instead of being at school or doing homework. Basketball has made me grow to value family and my Filipino culture more. My dad and I love to bond over basketball, even if sometimes it leads us to a chaotic car ride home after a bad game. My brother and I used to always fight, but when it comes to basketball, we fight even more. Our competitive personalities never fail to clash when it comes to being on the court. Although I enjoy arguing with my brother and my dad, I also cherish the peaceful moments that I share with my mom at home.

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