Summer lacrosse camp lays foundation for future

The Tigers enjoyed the biggest turnout in history for their annual event.

As co-captain of the Missouri Tigers men's lacrosse team for the past two years, senior midfielder Josh Nelson helped lead the team as it finished second in its division and gained national recognition. This summer, Nelson and his teammates joined to help the local lacrosse movement by teaching kids to play the game through a university sponsored camp.

“We’re getting more and more boys from different areas of the country,” Nelson said. “Any time there’s a national ranking next to your name the kids start to see the prestige of the camp that they’re going to.”

Held July 6 to July 10, the Tiger Lacrosse Camp had 90 campers in attendance this year -- twice as many as last year's camp. Ten Tiger lacrosse players served as counselors for the four-day camp, where attendees ran through offensive and defensive drills as well as game simulations.

“The camp is catered to boys of all ages,” coach Keith Euker said. “The point of camp is to teach the game to guys in a setting outside of their normal team practice environment.”

In his second year as coach, Euker led the team to a 13-4 record and a top 25 national ranking. Now entering his third year, Euker hopes that the camp will help garner publicity for the program.

“It’s a regular practice among universities to have summer lacrosse camps,” Euker said. “It’s a lot of fun, the boys enjoy it and the campers get a chance to interact with the players.”

For this year's camp, the decision was made to have current players run the camp where as in past years, alumni of the program played a larger role. Nelson hopes that by doing this, the player’s can give kids a feel for what it’s like to play on a college team.

“The players are fresh out of the season and it gives the boy’s a real sense of how lacrosse moves at the college level,” Nelson said.

According to Euker, the camp has been held each summer for the past 10 years, with this year’s camp being the most successful in the programs history. In his time as coach of the Tigers, Euker has increased publicity for lacrosse in the state by placing a greater advertising emphasis on the yearly camp, as well as by serving on the executive board of the Great Rivers Lacrosse Conference.

“We hope to make a connection with our fans; that’s a large part of what the camp is about,” Euker said. “As a young boy, it’s more fun to cheer for Josh Nelson when he has the ball on the field than to just cheer for number 33.”

For junior defenseman Clayton Cruthirds, the Tiger Lacrosse camp allowed him to connect with local youth lacrosse players.

“Lacrosse is just now starting to grow in the southern states, as opposed to states like Virginia,” Cruthirds said. “This was the first time I had helped at a camp, and I’m excited to do it next year. I had a lot of fun.”

Cruthirds feels the camp will also help teach kids about the fundamentals of the game.

“Our coach is really big on setting up the camp so that we can try to spread youth lacrosse and get kids started younger,” he said. “It’s laying the foundation for the future of the team.”

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