Not unlike a pre-school child itself, a local field lacrosse program aimed primarily at girls under the age of five is growing in leaps and bounds.
Brian DeWagner and his wife June launched the Janie Twohander lacrosse program in 2013 with about a dozen girls. Just three years later nearly 10 times that number is taking part.
“It just keeps growing,” said DeWagner, who has long-standing ties to the sport.
And plans are in the works to possibly incorporate a similar program in London and create a local program for kids with disabilities.
“The beauty of the sport is that you give a kid a stick and they figure it out,” DeWagner said.
The program was started to combat the lack of options for children who simply want to play for fun.
From the beginning, DeWagner was determined to offer it for free and provide all the equipment so every girl could play, regardless of economic status. He formerly work for the University of Michigan’s Athletic Department, and has connections with several U.S. universities that donated equipment.
The first year, five or six schools responded. One of them was the University of Findlay Oilers in Ohio, which also took on a mentoring role, conversing through social media and sending its girls’ lacrosse team to Sarnia to hold clinics for the Janie Twohanders.
“It was an instant connection,” said Oilers Head Coach Julie Duffy who, along with her team captain, visited Sarnia earlier this month bearing gifts as part of a pre-Christmas visit with some program members.
“It’s something that our girls look forward to,” she said.
Interaction with the girls helps her players understand life is so much larger than sport, she said.
Brian and June DeWagner were recently honoured with YMCA Peace Medallion in Sarnia for their part in developing the program, along with its counterpart for boys called Jimmy Twohander.
Registration for Janie/Jimmy Twohander will be held in the spring, with dates and location to be announced.
Contact DeWagner at [email protected] or 519-542-5331.