Being a part of Sun Valley Lacrosse has helped Decker Cinnamon meet new people and hone his skills of being a part of a team. The 13-year-old was on the sidelines with an injured arm last week, but was still cheering on his teammates at their competition on Sunday, May 7, at Wood River Middle School.
“I love the teamwork we have and that we get to play all over Idaho,” said Thatcher Beck, 13, who was standing with Cinnamon.
Sun Valley Lacrosse was started at the end of 2019 as a nonprofit by Conor Quinn and Mike Kennedy.
Kennedy is a member of the Northeastern University Lacrosse Hall of Fame. He has coached and played in Australia for the New South Wales State team and competed briefly in Europe. Prior to Sun Valley, Kennedy coached K-4 for the Greenwich Youth Lacrosse club in Greenwich, Connecticut.
Quinn played varsity lacrosse for Tri-State Lacrosse in New Jersey. As a four-year starter, he was a two-time state champion, captain, 1st Team All State and still holds the New Jersey state record for most points in a game. Quinn then played Division 1 Lacrosse at the University of Denver and has coached youth lacrosse players on teams, at camps, in clinics and at tournaments for more than two decades. He is also a founder and director of Cal Coast Sports Ventures, which hosts eight lacrosse tournaments throughout the year in Santa Barbara, California.
“A majority of our board and coaches all have direct experience in lacrosse. Most of us were college athletes competing in Division I through III schools, so these kids are getting amazing instruction by our volunteer coaches,” Quinn said.
Lead advisor for the girls program is Lauren Schmidt, who played Division I for Stanford University as a four-year starter, two-year captain, All-American and two-time Conference Player of the Year, according to her bio. Schmidt has played on the U.S. National Team and coached Division I at Fresno State and U.C. Berkley.
Lead advisor for the boys program is Nick Ossello, who played for Notre Dame. He was an honorable mention All-American midfielder and also played for the football team. He was assistant coach at the Air Force Academy for the 2018 season and played for the Premier Lacrosse League Redwoods Lacrosse Club in 2019 and 2020.
He currently is the color commentator for the National Lacrosse League’s San Diego Seals.
In their first season, Sun Valley Lacrosse had more than 180 boys and girls signed up, competing in tournaments in Idaho and Wyoming.
In their second year, they started private summer clinics with instruction by national champion players such as Adair Martin, UNC Women’s Lacrosse National Champion, and Ally Mastroianni, UNC Women’s Lacrosse National Champion as well as captain for Team USA.
Now in their third year, they have more than 200 players and have started a summer and fall league for more opportunities.
“I like lacrosse because it’s similar to hockey,” Beck said.
The Sage School student added he has been playing for eight years, but the last two years with Sun Valley Lacrosse. Beck typically plays an attack position, and hopes to play throughout high school and into college.
“Our program stresses the importance of multi-sport athletes. We want kids who play all sorts of sports because it keeps them healthy and active,” Quinn said.
Quinn also stressed that they started a scholarship program on day one because they didn’t want any kids to be left out if their families have financial hardships.
“We are growing every year, and we represent student athletes from 12 local schools. Even with a late start to the season because of snow, we are competing against big programs in other areas, and we are winning,” Quinn said.
At their recent tournament in Pocatello April 30 and May 1, Quinn said that Sun Valley Lacrosse took home 16 wins of 22 games that weekend. The boys third- and fourth-grade players were undefeated champions.
The girls teams all took home wins with one tie for the 5th/6th level against Teton Valley, Quinn said.
Their spring season will run through May 28, as they have tournaments in Driggs, Boise and Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Summer season will be mostly traveling from Montana to Oregon.
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