Beyond Vassar

Thinking Inside the Box: Dave Almy '90

By Peter Bronski

It’s no secret that hockey is the national sport of Canada. But did you know that lacrosse is, too? The sport is also popular in the United States, where it has seen rapid growth. Since 2001 alone, the number of people playing the sport has doubled to more than half a million in the United States, according to U.S. Lacrosse, the sport’s governing body; and membership in the organization has grown by nearly 600 percent since its founding in 1998.

That’s good news to the ears of Gloucester, Massachusetts, native Dave Almy ’90. The midfielder arrived on Vassar’s campus at a time when men’s lacrosse was a club sport. By the spring of his sophomore year, in 1988, lacrosse had gone varsity. Two years later, Almy was co-captain of the team. He’s lost little of his love for the game. In fact, he might be more passionate about it now than ever.

Driving near his home in northern California sometime in 2005, he saw a group of kids running around with lacrosse sticks at a local park. “I came close to driving off the road,” he says, recalling his excitement. A youth lacrosse club had just launched. “On the spot, I offered that I’d be happy to help coach,” he says.

Meanwhile, other developments were afoot in the world of northern California lacrosse. Shaydon Santos, a professional lacrosse player originally from Canada, was in the midst of launching the U.S. Box Lacrosse Association, the Box Lacrosse Academy, and theCali*Lax All-Stars, the first youth development and travel box lacrosse team in the United States. Wildly popular in Canada, box is field lacrosse’s lesser-known cousin. The fast-paced game has nuances all its own, played on artificial turf within the confines of an ice hockey rink.

Almy immediately signed on as a coach. When the Cali*Lax All-Stars showed up in Calgary on Canada Day in 2009 to compete in a prominent lacrosse tournament, it was the first time an American team had competed in the previously all-Canadian event. They took second place.

This year, they’re headed back. Only this time, Almy, Santos, and company are bringing 11 teams to Calgary, two in each youth age group. They’ve also set their sights on the Ontario Lacrosse Festival in August, the venue for the youth Canadian Box Lacrosse Championship. With some 475 teams, more than 9,000 players, and more than 45,000 attendees, it’s the largest youth lacrosse event in North America.

Almy’s kids are getting in on the action as well. His 13-year-old son plays both field and box, and his 9-year-old twin daughters play as well. Best of all, he’s coaching both sets of teams. “I’m completely and totally addicted,” he says.