Berlin CT Lacrosse Youth Non-Profit Lax Boys Girls

My my My my


2015 Year in Review

A year of firsts!


2015 will always be known as a year of firsts!  In January when I was announced as the new Berlin Youth Lacrosse Association (BYLA) President, I had some big ideas on how we could promote the sport of lacrosse in town.  Having been on the board for the past 5 years, involved with coaching and many other overseeing roles for the league, I got to see a lot of the everyday operations.  So when I was elected my first plan was to put these ideas into actions.  I shared these ideas with our executive board and was able to make them happen due to the great group of coaches and volunteers.  So before we get started I would like to thank all the BYLA board members, the coaching staff and all the volunteers for their time, dedication and assistance in making this program bloom and develop.  It’s one thing to have ideas and concepts and its other to work with a group of people that make those ideas a reality.


As you will see there were many firsts this past spring season and there will be even more in the future.  As with any new idea its starts with a plan being set into motion.  Then adapting, learning, and creating new ideas until the original idea is a reality.  We have started many new initiatives this year and WILL grow and learn from them to make next year even better.  So onto our “Year of Firsts” recap.


In February we held the very first BYLA fund-raiser, “The Pancake Breakfast”.  Marie Grant, our event coordinator headed up this event.  I’d like to express a special thanks to her and the many volunteers and donators for making this successful.  The Berlin Lacrosse families and players came out and showed their support.  The fund-raiser was a huge success bringing in over $1200.  This money will be put towards renting indoor practice space next March for the spring season.  As you know this past season started later than normal due to the weather and with snow still on the fields we were unable to practice.  Next year will be different.


We also held the first “Meet and Greet” gathering before the season started.  Parents, players and coaches were able to come out and toss the ball around, pick up their uniforms and meet other BYLA families;  another good turnout for this event. (lesson learned:  This event should occur early to mid-March which will allow parents to find out about equipment, scheduling and what to expect for the upcoming season.)


This past spring we asked our Berlin Lacrosse High School players to give back to the youth program in the form of clinics for these future stars.  We ran 4 specialty clinics for each position:  goalie, attack, midfield and defense.  The idea that the high school boys and girls would show our young players some “tricks of the trades”.  The support from the high school players and coaches was overwhelming!  Thanks to the following students who donated their time during the weekend for these clinics:


Oliva Bednarek (A); Caityln DiCioccio (A); Athena Lawrence (D); Oliva Martino (M); Taylor Smolicz (G); Cameron Criniti (A); Vinny DeDominicis (A), Eric DeFranceco (D); Garrett Guite (A); Jordan Kradas (A); Geoff Main (M); Alex Ott (D); Casey St. Peter (G)


“The Dog Days” jamboree which was held on Saturday May 16th was another BYLA first.  The purpose of this is to bring all Berlin lacrosse families together for an all-day lacrosse jamboree.  The idea was to have every team play a game that day starting in the morning and running through until early evening.  We were able to have half of the teams participate in this new annual event.  Moving forward this will be a great day of lacrosse in Berlin!  As this grows we are hoping to have the 2 high school teams play and have vendors on location.  


We also marched in the Memorial Day parade.  This marked the first ever attendance by Berlin Lacrosse.  Many players, parents and coaches came out to show their support.  We had about one representative from each team.  Approximately 25 people marched, shelling out candy and having fun with friends.


Congratulations to the 2 BYLA Scholarships winners: Erin Goodwin and Jacob Bernard.  Both received the first BYLA Scholarships for their dedication and support of youth lacrosse.  The scoring was done by independent judges and Erin and Jacob achieved the highest amount of points by gender.  A big thanks to Allyson Formica, our scholarship advisor, for organizing this each step of the way.


Apparel sales reached an all time high!  While apparel is not new this year, the 2 ladies who ran it, Linda Tighe and Marlene Baretta, are new to our board.  They were awesome!  They sold more apparel this year than in the last three.  They brought in many new ideas and products throughout the season.  Besides apparel they ran more fund raisers as well – oh and if you didn’t purchase the “meat fund-raiser” – you MUST next time.  Not only does it help the program, the quality of the meat is superb!  In fact we are throwing around the idea of a fall deal, so stay tuned.


And saving the best for last, well at least for me, our Senior Boys team captured the first CVYL Championship in Berlin Lacrosse’s 10+ year history.  It was the perfect ending to the boys I started coaching 5 years ago; we started the first Bantam Boys team.  Many of the kids from that team, with additions as we grew, ended their youth lacrosse careers by winning the CVYL bracket and capturing the crown.  The boys played great and they deserve it.  I’m very proud of them.  I’d also like to acknowledge, Eric Gauvin as my assistant who did a great job developing the team as well.


I have to leave you with a story that sums up the lacrosse community we have in Berlin.  I want to share it because it’s pretty cool and it shows the beliefs we try to instill in our players.   It’s about friends; memories; development; giving back and fun.  This past spring I had an eighth grade player on my senior team, TJ Hebert.  He practices in his yard a lot (BTW this is a good thing).  His neighbor Jack Heeps, a then first grader and a first year Bandit would watch and wait for TJ to practice.  As soon as TJ was out taking shots, Jack would run over and practice with TJ.  The two would practice together; the old teaching the new; the teacher and the student.  Call me old fashion; call me sentimental, but that’s pretty cool!  While we were on our playoff run, Jack came to all of TJ’s games to watch and root for us!  Man if that doesn’t cover all aspects of our beliefs at BYLA – friends; memories; development; giving back and fun!


Thanks to all of you for your support and dedication to our lacrosse program.


I’m looking forward to the development we can all take pride in and our future together as we are all part of the Berlin Youth Lacrosse family.




Mark Lavoie

BYLA President/Webmaster