Newcastle boy brings lacrosse to Newcastle Elementary

October 4, 2012

By Christina Corrales-Toy

When 10-year-old Ethan Likes turned to his mother Maggie Likes and told her he wanted to raise $1,000 to buy lacrosse equipment for his school, Newcastle Elementary, she was shocked.

“I said, ‘You want to do what?’ So we had to make a plan and he did it. I’m super proud of him,” she said.

Ethan has only played lacrosse for about a year, but he’s already in love with the sport.

By Christina Corrales-Toy
Ethan Likes (center) poses with members of the Liberty Lacrosse Club after the group donated $100 to his effort to buy lacrosse equipment for Newcastle Elementary School at Newcastle Days on Sept. 8.

“The reason I like lacrosse so much is because it’s like all of my favorite sports combined in one,” he said. “It’s a really fun activity to do, and I think being able to just run up and down the field and throw the ball is cool.”

When he returned from a lacrosse camp or a tournament, he would try to share the experience with his classmates, but often, they were unfamiliar with the sport.

“I would tell them about my lacrosse game, but they wouldn’t know what I was talking about,” he said. “For a lot of my friends, they don’t know what lacrosse is about, so they don’t think of it as much as they do football.”

So, Ethan spent the entire summer raising money to bring lacrosse to his school and share his favorite sport with his classmates.

“For anybody at my school that wants to try lacrosse, I think they will really like it,” he said.

Ethan traveled around his Newcastle neighborhood and offered to do various jobs to raise the funds. He pulled weeds, spread mulch, planted flowers and even picked up dog poop.

But it was all worth it, except for maybe the dog poop, he said, because the money would help bring exposure to the sport of lacrosse.

Ethan ended up raising more than $1,000, which should provide plenty of equipment for Newcastle Elementary students, his mother said.

They even added $60 to the fund when Newcastle Days emcee Lance Lambert unexpectedly led Ethan into the crowd to solicit donations at the Sept. 8 event.

Maggie said her son has received a lot of community support, especially from Brian Rinckenberger, of the Liberty Lacrosse Club, who presented Ethan with a check for a $100 from the club at Newcastle Days.

“Brian got really excited and he actually had some contact at Dick’s Sporting Goods, so he actually got a gift card from there to help Ethan buy some equipment,” she said.

Rinckenberger is also passionate about the sport and is leading the effort to put together a youth team through the Liberty Lacrosse Club.

The youth league will allow future Liberty High School lacrosse players to play together under that Liberty banner throughout elementary and middle school.

In the past, youth players who were expected to attend Liberty High School would have to play with Issaquah Youth Lacrosse. Generally, the youth programs were organized under the banner of the high school team.

“These kids will play together all the way up through Liberty High School, so it’s about establishing that continuity and not playing in one team’s colors in middle school and then going on and playing for a different high school team when you get to the high school,” Rinckenberger said.

Rinckenberger said he expects to launch the program in spring, so his current focus, much like Ethan’s, is to generate excitement and awareness of the sport among local youths.

“Ethan’s story is almost a serendipitous moment where we decided this is the year to jump out on our own and try to promote a youth program for Liberty in this part of the Eastside, and at the same time, here’s a kid who wants to passionately introduce his classmates and his peers to the game,” he said.

The expectation is that the Liberty Lacrosse Club will field two teams for its youth division. One team will be for fifth- and sixth-graders while the other team will be made up of seventh- and eighth-graders.

“Most kids that play lacrosse love it and come back year after year,” Rinckenberger said. “So, it’s really a full-court press right now in terms of our effort to introduce the sport to kids out here in Newcastle.”

Lacrosse is an investment-heavy sport, but Rinckenberger said he is committed to making sure that is not an obstacle for kids who want to play for the youth team.

“There’s a lot of gear that needs to be purchased along with the registration fees that go along with any sort of youth sport, and our goal is to not turn any interested athletes away,” he said. “So, whether that means making scholarships available for signup fees or making renter or loaner gear available, we want them on the field.”

Rinckenberger knows that there will be at least one player on the field once the youth teams begin practices — Ethan Likes.

“I’m very confident that he will be a part of our club next season and I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do on the field,” he said.

Maggie said she expected to purchase the equipment by early October. They are already coordinating with the school’s physical education teacher.

Through it all, Ethan has made Maggie one proud mother, as she watched him put in the time and effort for something he is passionate about.

“This was all him,” she said. “This was his idea and he did all of the work. We’re just really proud of him.”

 

What to know

Learn more about the Liberty Lacrosse Club and its new youth division at www.libertylacrosseclub.com.

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