Jake Hornung, 12, is not a newcomer to lacrosse.
He said he learned about lacrosse by reading a book about the sport at about age 5 and began playing a short time later.
"I have like 60 lacrosse games taped on my DVR," said Hornung, who attends Stallings Island Middle School. "I have a bunch."
Hornung was all over Evans Town Center Field during YMCA spring league games Wednesday. The YMCA's lacrosse program, which has been in existence six years, saw its numbers more than double this spring after receiving a $5,000 grant from U.S. Lacrosse.
To earn the grant, Marshall Family Y program director Justin Goolsby had to fill out an application explaining plans for the grant and the number of participants in the program. The money allowed the YMCA to purchase 20 sets of equipment.
"It's expensive," Goolsby said. "That kept some of them playing."
The first year, coaches said, the program drew only abut 10 participants. At its peak this spring, close to 80 boys and girls were participating. The program used the money to purchase equipment -- helmets, pads and sticks -- that was then rented out to parents. Goolsby said some of the money earned from rentals would go to buying more equipment.
Goolsby said rental fees had brought in between $1,500 and $2,000 in the spring. The YMCA will also play host to a summer league, with registration starting Monday.
Hornung said he had been playing lacrosse with friends but nothing organized until he started at the YMCA this spring. Area coaches serve as referees and coaches and high school players help coach or play goalie.
"We've been wanting to do it for a while, but we didn't know if they had leagues," Hornung said.
Hornung's friends Tanner Everhart and Noah Chamberlain are among his teammates.
Everhart, a 12-year-old pupil at Greenbrier Middle, said before joining the YMCA league, most games were played in his neighborhood. He said his favorite sport was football, but he wants to continue playing lacrosse through high school.
Hornung, who said he has watched several of Lakeside High's lacrosse games, proclaimed lacrosse the best sport ever and said he wanted to play in high school.
Chamberlain, said he won't have the chance to play in high school because his school, Augusta Prep, doesn't field a lacrosse team.
Chamberlain will still be able to compete in the YMCA league, though, and there are other opportunities for older players to find competition.
Fifteen-year-old Chris Hess, a Greenbrier freshman, was the only goalie to sign up for the spring league. Hess has just started playing lacrosse but the sport has already surpassed football as his favorite, his father said.
"It seems like a lot of kids are leaning toward lacrosse as the sport of preference," Bob Hess said. "It's the only place where you can give kids a bunch of sticks and let them beat on each other. It's perfect for kids this age."
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.