The City of Ann Arbor has a great lacrosse tradition. Pioneer and Huron High Schools have had solid programs for 10+ years. The younger programs such as Gabriel Richard, Greenhills and second year program Skyline are making great strides, as well. How do young players gain the skills necessary to compete at the High School level and beyond? One way is the Ann Arbor Blue Jay Lacrosse Club. I had a chance to chat with the club director, Darren Millman and discuss all things lax.
Darren, what’s your lacrosse background?
“I grew up playing lacrosse in Ellicott City, MD (a Baltimore suburb) at Mr. Hebron High School, and later at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, PA. I helped start a new high school program at a small private school in Cincinnati, OH called Seven Hills. After moving to Ann Arbor in 2003, I served as assistant coach at Pioneer High School in 2004, before becoming the head coach at Pioneer from 2005-2010.”
Tell me about the Blue Jay Club – What are they about?
“The Ann Arbor Blue Jays have been around since the summer of 2008 when we offered our first Summer Camp. The kids playing are primarily in Grades 3-8, although we have offered programs for high school age players as well. We offer programs for boys year-round and a girls program in the fall. There is potential that the girls program could develop into a year-round program as well.”
What are the goals for the program?
“The goal of the Ann Arbor Blue Jays program is to develop lacrosse players who will have the ability to have success at the high school level, and beyond. Competitive youth programs in communities such as Birmingham and Grand Rapids have long served as successful training grounds for successful high school players. In order for Ann Arbor area high schools to be able to compete with the best programs in the state, it is essential to develop players at a younger age.”
How do you do that?
“Well, the primary season for the Ann Arbor Blue Jays program is March-early June. During that time we field the following competitive travel teams: 3rd/4th Grade, 5th/6th Grade “A”, 5th/6th Grade “B”, 7th/8th Grade “A” and 7th/8th Grade “B”. Those teams practice an average of 2 times per week, play a schedule of 10-16 games and compete in two tournaments. In addition, we offer summer tournament teams and camps, a fall outdoor clinic and winter indoor programs November through February.
What is your greatest satisfaction?
“My greatest satisfaction working with kids comes when a parent tells me that their son or daughter loves playing lacrosse more than anything else. That’s when I know we are doing our job well.
Do you have any memorable moments from the past year?
“One particularly memorable moment for our program occurred this summer at the Cherry Bomb Tournament in Traverse City, Michigan. We had a team competing in the Under 11 Division and had advanced to the Championship game against the Detroit Dynamo, a Birmingham area All-Star team. It was an epic battle with numerous lead changes and many great plays by both sides. Ultimately, the game went through four complete sudden-death overtimes before the Blue Jays finally scored to win the Championship in the fifth overtime! The jubilation on the boys eye-black smeared faces was truly priceless!”
After that story – I’m sure that many parents will want to contact you – how should they do that?
“Registration and information for all of our programs is handled online through our website at www.bluejaylacrosse.com . People can also direct questions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.