There’s a new game in town: Downtown Giants lacrosse
It’s been 13 years since Mike Barbieri started the Downtown Giants football club and for much of that time he’s been itching to add lacrosse to his offerings (he’s got 100 kids playing tackle and 400 playing flag year-round plus a travel basketball team). Then along came local parent Dave Kunz, and as of this fall there’s now Downtown Giants Lacrosse for boys and girls grades 4 through 8. “I was dying to do it,” said Barbieri. “I said to Dave, ‘If you can pull the people together, I will handle the logistics.’”
This is what you’d call a building year for the lacrosse venture – some of the kids have never held a stick. But the club has yet to lose a player, even the ones who asked for – and were offered – a money-back guarantee. There are now 18 girls and 42 boys playing in evening clinics on the roof at Pier 40 and scrimmages on Saturdays in East River Park, running through drills on faceoffs, ground balls, cradling. The coaches are current NCAA coaches, “people who could relate better to the kids than Jackson and Grey’s dad,” said Kunz. A season’s enrollment costs $600 for eight weeks; the ratio of kid to coach is 6 to 1. “We wanted to overcoach, especially when developing.”
Both these guys had sporty high school lives – Barbieri playing football at Xavier, where he now also coaches, and Kunz playing lacrosse at Belmont Hill School outside Boston – but they started these leagues for their own kids. Barbieri was living in Tribeca at the time (now in Battery Park City) and had a son who wanted to play football (the kid is now an actor). Kunz’s kids are both enrolled in lacrosse. And Kunz had never lost touch with his lacrosse buddies, five of whom are now on the US Lacrosse board. (Both men have day jobs in finance, so this is a significant extra-curricular activity.)
“The lacrosse network is really tight – the reason I am on Wall Street is because of lacrosse,” Kunz said. And wait, there’s more, tiger parents. “It’s also the number one unused scholarship dollar in the NCAA.”
The fall season wraps up this week; registration will open soon for a winter skills workout, the spring 2020 season and a two-week lacrosse day camp.