When the organizers of Watertown Youth Lacrosse formed the league in 2018 there were many naysayers who doubted that another sport could not only get a toe hold, but thrive in town. This year, the group will marks its 10 year anniversary and among the success stories is having to former players come back to coach budding Watertown lacrosse players.
One of the original organizers, Jay Hughes, recalled that the group formed with “no money, no clue and not knowing the difference between a long pole and a fishing pole.”
“We were told that Watertown was too small to have baseball and Lacrosse and we shouldn’t do it,” Hughes said. “We were warned that the biggest obstacles would be in order: 1) Fields, 2) Kids, 3) Coaches.”
The fields ended not being a problem, thanks to the then-Recreation Department Director Tom Sullivan setting aside Moxley Field for the group to use, Hughes said.
And, the players turned up, even on the kick off lacrosse clinic which took place on June 7, 2008 under some challenging conditions. Hughes wrote in a letter in the Watertown Tab at the time:
“With borrowed nets and equipment, a heat index hovering around 100 degrees and with many kids having to attend family graduation parties, AAU Basketball playoffs and mandatory baseball practices, well over 75 kids participated in a free lacrosse clinic at the Casey Park”
Over the years, there have been many more players, with some having great success in the sport. Hughes said 15 Watertown lacrosse players have gone on to play college lacrosse.
Coming Full Circle
The most challenging part, Hughes said, was finding coaches. In search for people to coach in the fledgling program Watertown Youth Lacrosse put out a letter in the local paper looking for help.
“We were blessed to have Jim Helie (WYL President) and Tom Shortt (WYL VP) respond to the part of the article asking for coaching help,” Hughes wrote. “Year after year we have been able to solicit and get random former college players to help coach but NOW we have finally come full circle and have two of our original kids coming back to coach our U15 teams after successful College careers.”
Matt Johnson and Danny Loprete, two players from WYL’s inaugural season and 2103 Watertown High School graduates, are “coming home” to coach in the league where it all started for them, Helie said.
“We as a program have always looked to find former college players to help
coach our kid. And now as a program, I feel we have finally come full circle and couldn’t be prouder in welcoming back Matt and Danny to coach our 2018 U15 teams” Helie said. “Since day one, Tom Shortt and I have tried to teach and instill in our players what it means to ‘Honor the Game’ and play ‘The Watertown Way.’ To have Matt and Danny come back, after stand out careers at the High School and NCAA level, to pay it forward by giving back to the program to coach our kids is pretty special.”
Johnson, a four-year starter at St. Anselm College, said he is glad to be able to give back to the program.
“We can’t wait” said Johnson. “My Mom and Dad helped start Watertown Lacrosse and be able to come back and coach in Watertown where it all began is pretty cool.”
Loprete, who started all four years at Merrimack and played in the National Championship game last year, looks forward to coaching with his best friend.
“Coach Shortt was our first coach and taught us the game that has given us so much
and when he brought up the possibility of Matt and I coaching the U15’s after the
High School Alumni game, we were all for it!” Loprete said. “Matt and I are best friends. We were teammates in youth lacrosse and at WHS and competed against each other in college. To now be coaching together is going to be a blast.”
The focus for Johnson and Loprete’s team?
“Our team is going to be Fun, Fast and Ferocious,” said Johnson. “Teams are going to hate to play us. We are going wear teams down by being the most fundamentally sound and the best conditioned team in the league. We will never
be out worked by anyone”
Loprete added: “We are going to be a ground ball machine. The game starts and ends with possession and ground balls are going to be the most important stat we keep on this team.”