The Scoop Spring 2015 - Page 6

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By Andrew O'Reilly

Noah Downs and Alejandro Heyworth sat down together for a meeting in Harvard Square in September 2013. The two Cambridge residents had never met before but were about to embark on a daunting task: creating the first successful youth lacrosse program in their city. Downs’ and Heyworth’s love of the game would help the pair succeed.

Downs began his lacrosse experience as a freshman at Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School. Following his high school days, Downs decided to continue his education at the University of North Carolina Greensboro (UNCG) where he his lacrosse career flourished. As a midfielder, Downs left his mark on the UNCG program; he served as a captain for two years and continued to coach in the program after graduation. Even when Downs hung up his cleats for good, he coached lacrosse from youth to the collegiate levels.

Downs started coaching when he was in high school for two youth teams through Metro Lacrosse. Since then he has coached for UNCG’s club team, Page High School and Northwest High in North Carolina, the Boston Bulldogs, Boston College High School, and is currently a head coach for the youth select team with Royal Lacrosse. He currently lives in Boston and works as a Physical Education teacher at the King Open School in Cambridge. Although Downs' playing days were over, it was his coaching experience that brought him to Heyworth.

A native New Yorker, Heyworth has called Cambridge his home from the time he attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). During his time at MIT, Heyworth was a member of the men’s lacrosse team.

During their initial meetings, Downs and Heyworth spent many hours to iron out the finer details of the program. However, the duo realized they couldn’t do it alone. “Motivated, we assembled a core group of people that were dedicated to getting Cambridge Youth Lacrosse off the ground. We studied and talked to other youth lacrosse programs and worked with the city and local schools to understand field space availability,” said Heyworth.

Just six months after first meeting in Harvard Square, Downs and Heyworth stood on the Cambridge High School athletic fields, looking out to as many as 120 young athletes who were ready to learn about lacrosse. As an unofficial program in the spring of 2014, Downs, Heyworth, the rest of the Cambridge Youth Lacrosse board, and volunteer coaches held weekly clinics on Saturday mornings to introduce the basics and acclimate the Cambridge youth to a sport that many had never played before.

“From there we took the summer off, and then decided to start with clinics again in the fall to vamp up for the spring [2015] season,” said Downs. “We had an even bigger turnout than the spring with at least 200 different kids coming out. So, as we are getting started this year, we had a warm-up year before we decided to officially join the league.”

In a time where lacrosse has become a year-round sport for many youth players, the year of clinics was crucial for a program like Cambridge. In just a year and a half, Downs and Heyworth have put in place a program that will begin competitive play in the 2015 spring season.

6 The Scoop / Spring '15

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