Kristen Siemion believes in the value of lacrosse, one of the oldest sports in North America. And through a fair bit of work, the Nooksack Valley High School PE teacher has landed two grants to support lacrosse as a PE unit at both NVHS and NV Middle School.
"This is a new sport for most high school students, so the heightened enthusiasm at first to use a stick to throw and catch wears off a little as they begin to refine their technique, but once the games begin, the engagement is high and so is the competition," Siemion says. In the lacrosse unit at the high school, students work on skill development together, helping determine what skills they need to improve. Using the Sport Education Model of teaching, Siemion says it "allows the students to see themselves develop individually and collectively."
But this introduction to lacrosse wouldn't be possible without both the generosity of the local lacrosse community and the work of Siemion in earning two grants to support the unit for both the high school and middle school.
Siemion says that while the game has been popular on the East Coast for decades, it took longer to grow on the West Coast. Still, with local club teams in Whatcom County—North County Cavaliers and Bellingham Warriors—competitive lacrosse continues to take hold here.
Those local teams have proven a resource for PE teachers, with both clubs showing a willingness to loan equipment and run clinics. This has helped introduce students to the sport and excite NV staff enough that Siemion worked at landing two separate grants from USA Lacrosse. The first grant will give the school 60 lacrosse sticks and four dozen soft lacrosse balls and the second grant a pair of lacrosse goals.
The new gear will likely arrive in January and benefit the students at the high school and middle school. "By providing students with an introduction to the sport," Siemion says, "they have an opportunity to explore skills and gameplay which they can then take to a competitive level through our local lacrosse club, North County Cavaliers."