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Lacrosse now plays year-round

It seems there's no off-season in sports any more. Basketball, soccer, baseball, golf, tennis, you name it. It seems everything is played year-round now.

So, why not lacrosse. Well, thanks to the efforts pro lacrosse star Ryan Powell, local players now have a chance to play year-round. Powell and good friend Brian Silcott, who is also the coach of the San Francisco Dragons, have started an off-season youth lacrosse league that draws kids from West Linn, Lake Oswego and the surrounding areas.

The program, which operates under the name Rhino Lacrosse League (Rhino is Powell's nickname), is just finishing up its fall youth league. That league featured four middle school boys teams comprised largely of Lake Oswego and West Linn kids.

For the winter season, which starts in December, Powell has already lined up eight high school teams plus a middle school league. Kids can sign up for those leagues by going online to www.rhinolacrosse.com.

Participants will play eight games per season and each game will be proceeded by an instructional clinic that will be conducted by Powell and Silcott. Those clinics proved to be very beneficial to the younger kids who were just learning to play lacrosse.

'A lot of guys couldn't pass and catch when they started,' Powell said. 'Now, they'll make four or five passes and then score a goal.'

After experiencing considerable success playing at Syracuse University and for the Portland LumberJax, Powell has probably earned the right to take it easy during the off-season. But he enjoys working with kids, and he wants to see lacrosse become as popular on the West Coast as it is on the East Coast, where Powell grew up.

'I just want to get lacrosse at a different level here,' Powell said.

Then again, the small town in western New York where Powell was raised didn't have winter leagues either. It hardly mattered, though, because Powell, his brothers and their neighbors created their own games.

'I remember plowing church parking lots in New York so we could practice,' Powell said.

Powell is committed to making this new league work. Chances are good that it will succeed since the Rhino League has little or no competition during the off-season. Plus, the league has the unrivaled knowledge of guys like Powell, Silcott and D.J. Driscoll, a player for the LA Riptude, who coaches one of the teams.

During the winter season, that staff will expand to include the LumberJax' Brodie Merrill, who was the league's rookie of the year and the defensive player of the year last season.

'The caliber of our coaching is unbelievable,' Powell said. 'Our staff is the best in the country.'

Ultimately, Powell would like 'to have every lacrosse player in Oregon come through our program,' he said. 'We want to help them become the players they want to be.

'I think the timing is perfect, because lacrosse is exploding,' Powell said.