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Enthusiasts say sport invented by Native Americans is catching on across the South

Lacrosse camp draws about 100 boys to Riverside

POSTED: June 18, 2009 12:32 a.m.

Learning lacrosse

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TOM REED/The Times

Dale Morley of Gainesville reaches for the ball during a drill at the Powell Brothers lacrosse camp.

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It’s not every day that a kid gets the chance to meet a renowned professional lacrosse player like New York Titans forward Casey Powell.

Then again, not every kid would want to. But Powell is looking to change all that.

The New York native has been holding Casey Powell lacrosse camps all over the country for years now, and serves as a sort of ambassador for the sport.

This summer marks the sixth he’s held lacrosse camps in Georgia. On Wednesday, he wrapped up the first Casey Powell lacrosse camp held at Riverside Military Academy.

About 100 boys attended the four-day camp.

"We’re very excited about the turnout here and I think we’re going to be here for a long time," he said.

Lacrosse players from Gainesville High School were joined by students from all over Georgia.

Jennifer Roques said her son Keytan Roques, 16, came from St. Louis for the camp.

"This is what he wants to do in college," Jennifer Roques said. "He’d like to play pro if he could, so meeting someone like Casey is just like a dream for him."

So what is lacrosse all about?

Powell describes lacrosse as a combination of football, basketball and hockey.

He said Native Americans initiated the sport and early French settlers caught on to the game and labeled it lacrosse.

Players use sticks with small nets at the end to throw and carry the ball up and down a field slightly smaller than a soccer field. Players aim to hurl the small white ball past goalies into a net similar to soccer nets.

Although Powell said the sport has been largely confined to Northeastern prep and Ivy League schools in the past, its popularity is spreading. In fact, he said Sports Illustrated recently named lacrosse the fastest growing sport in the United States.

He called Georgia a "hot spot" for the sport’s growth.

And Jennifer Roques said the sport is catching on in the Midwest, too.

"It’s definitely a growing sport, especially when kids go to college," she said. "There’s so many kids playing football that it’s hard to play in college."

Dale Morley, a rising junior at Gainesville High School, said he’s enjoyed doing drills and getting pointers from Powell at the camp. He said it also was fun to meet the many lacrosse players who came to the camp from Tennessee and the Atlanta area.

Morley said he used to play soccer, but began playing lacrosse when he started ninth grade at Gainesville High. He said the high school also has a girls lacrosse team and he hopes the school system soon will start a middle school lacrosse program.

"There’s a lot of spirit in this game," he said. "It’s catching on pretty fast. There’s kids coming out at our school every year who see me at lunch with the stick and pick it up and get interested. There’s no other sport like it."



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