Oakley couple to launch youth lacrosse program

Oakley resident Johnny Boone (center back) poses with a youth lacrosse team. Boone is launching the Delta Breeze, a youth program he hopes inspires high school programs to blossom in East County.

East County youth will soon have another option when choosing which recreational sport to play.

Oakley residents Johnny and Laurie Boone are launching a youth lacrosse program for boys and girls ages 8 to 14.

“It’s really addictive,” said Johnny, a former lacrosse player and referee coordinator who’s turned to coaching and starting his own program. “Once you start playing, it’s hard to put your stick down.”

The team game, which many describe as hockey on grass, involves players using long-handled, racquet-like instruments affixed with a mesh net to carry, catch and pass a ball to teammates and, hopefully, shoot into the opposing team’s goal.

Johnny’s new Delta Breeze Lacrosse Club — formerly called the Delta Lax — is expected to feature three boys and three girls teams, all joining the around 50 club, US Lacrosse-sanctioned Northern California Junior Lacrosse Association. The Lax organization was a practice-only team.

The sport encompasses elements of hockey, track, football, soccer and basketball, featuring lots of running, throwing and catching. Players burn energy, build up stamina, demonstrate finesse, gain coordination and have fun, all in an action-packed game, said Johnny, who noted that youth of all experience levels are encouraged to join.

Fast runners typically excel, but crafty, slick players also have their place. People not enthusiastic about moving fast can usually find solace in the goal, said Johnny, who said the game is easy to learn.

“My granddaughter doesn’t like to run that much, so she has decided she’d like to play in the goal,” he said with a laugh.

It’s envisioned that the East County squads will practice twice a week, possibly at La Paloma High School in Brentwood, and travel to three or four Bay Area locations per season for a day of tournament-style action, allowing teams to play multiple games each time.

“We are so excited for this upcoming lacrosse season,” said Kelly Laubenheimer, whose son will be on one of the squads. “I think the goal of any athlete is to be able to compete with their peers, so it’s great these kids will have that opportunity this spring, thanks to the efforts of Coach Boone and his wife. Last year was my son’s first season and he fell in love, especially since it combines so many different aspects of other sports in one field. It is so fun to watch, too. It is non-stop action!”

The Breeze joins a growing list of Northern California recreational squads, including teams in Stockton, Walnut Creek, Danville, Livermore, Sacramento, Davis and the Gold Country. High school teams also dot the 680 corridor, Stockton and Livermore, just to name a few, Johnny said.

The game itself dates back to the days of Native Americans, and didn’t become a West Coast sport until about 20 years ago.

Johnny is hopeful that youth participation in East County will eventually inspire the sport to blossom in local high schools — competing with the likes of De La Salle and Monte Vista. For girls, local college scholarship opportunities are also plentiful, with Cal, Stanford, Chico State and California Polytechnic State University all fielding National Collegiate Athletic Association squads.

“It’s inevitable that it’s going to come out here,” Johnny said. “It needs to go now.”

For more information or to sign up, visit www.dblax.com.