MADISON, NJ - When any sports season winds down, it is important to reflect on what you’ve learned and the memories you’ve created, both good and bad.
For the numerous junior lacrosse teams, the 2017 Madison Junior Lacrosse Platypus Festival provided that opportunity. The event was held on the grounds of Madison High School, with teams from fourth through seventh grade.
A “no-winner” tournament, the festival is an opportunity for the teams to play in a fun environment and provide the kids with lasting memories.
"Platypus is all about having fun and honoring the game," said Nick Spagnoletti Head of Madison's Junior Lacrosse Program. "We encourage teams to focus on making sure the kids and families have a fun day of lacrosse to close out the season. I want all the kids to leave with the feeling they can't wait for next season to start."
The following town's participated in the 2017 Platypus Festival weekend: Chatham, Madison, Morristown, Chester/Mendham, Cranford, Florham Park, Lyndhurst, Maplewood, Millburn, Northern Highlands, Scotch Plains/Fanwood, Summit, The Hills, Wayne Pal, West Essex and Wyckoff.
“As the season comes to a close, it is really nice to have this event for the kids,” said Brad Pennington, a coach of Madison Junior Lacrosse. “This season has had some up and downs for us personally, but it is awesome to see the team come out one last time and show what they have learned all year.”
While the event did not crown a champion, that did not take away from the competitive nature of the games. The Madison team, as well as others, played until the final whistle, knowing that this would be how they ended the season.
The Madison 6A junior team was “defeated” on Sunday afternoon by the West Essex junior team, but the players fought hard and were greeted by parents and fans with applause and words of praise.
“This is essentially a culmination of all of the work they put in this season, so it is great to go out and see them play hard, even when there is no official score or records being kept,” said coach Pennington.
In addition to the dozens of games played throughout the weekend, the Platypus festival also featured numerous stands that sold merchandise including bamboo stick shafts and premium equipment.
With hundreds of players and parents in attendance, the stands were filled for nearly every game and the various lacrosse equipment dealers were constantly packed.
“Having it here in Madison is nice because it draws attention to our programs and facilities,” added Pennington.
The Madison Junior Lacrosse programs, like others, provide their athletes with season long games and practices that are set out to teach them the basics of the game while implementing the other skills necessary for success.
“We try to start the year by teaching them the basics if they are new to the game, and then progress as the season goes on,” said Pennington.
As is the case for many of these junior programs across the state, the end goal is the have these athletes be prepared for high school lacrosse. If the players start playing together at a young age, it will benefit their skills and the school’s future success.
“My son has learned a lot through the junior program,” said Tom Tien, a father of a player from Millburn. “He is going into seventh grade and is going to try to play in high school.”
As these players look to take the next step in their lacrosse careers, this event provides them with the opportunity to close their hard-fought seasons on a high note.
“My son loves it now, he will be very excited for the new season to begin,” said Tien.
The Madison Junior Lacrosse Platypus Festival is held yearly on the grounds of Madison High School in Madison, New Jersey. Addition information about the event can be found at http://madlaxjr.com/