Ten years ago, Michael Minchhoff returned to Lancaster County after previously coaching boys lacrosse at John Dickinson High School in Wilmington, Delaware. He was soon approached by a parent who was interested in starting up a club lacrosse program in Quarryville.
“I was at a parent-teacher conference and someone came up to me and said, ‘I heard that you coach lacrosse,’” Minchhoff recalled.
Since then, Minchhoff has been the man spearheading the Solanco club lacrosse program over the last decade. He recalled that about 10 boys players participated that first year.
Fast forward to this spring, and there is now a varsity team and two youth teams on the girls side and a varsity team and one youth team on the boys side.
The girls varsity team this season fields 16 players and is coached by Penn Manor alum Tesla Atkins-Miller, a former Lancaster-Lebanon League field hockey standout in the late 2000s who went on to play field hockey at East Stroudsburg University.
The boys varsity team fields 23 players and is coached by Minchhoff, a 1999 Penn Manor High School alum who was among the players on the Comets’ inaugural club lacrosse team. Minchoff works full-time as a technology education teacher in the Solanco School District.
All the Solanco youth and varsity teams practice on the grass fields on the Solanco campus. And they play other club teams as near as Coatesville and Downingtown and as far away as Maryland and Virginia.
While still a club operation, Minchhoff believes the program has reached a point where the program could become sanctioned by the PIAA under the Solanco High School banner in the very near future, though he recognizes there’s still plenty of hurdles to jump over.
Here’s a Q&A with Minchhoff, who made time after last Thursday’s practice to chat about the 10-year lacrosse journey in Quarryville and the challenges that lie ahead for the program, among other topics.
This operation has been years in the making. Why is it now that you feel you guys are close to a point of possibly being sanctioned by the PIAA and join the Lancaster-Lebanon League?
A: “In the past two years we have established a board of directors. We are a 503c non-profit organization. We promote our organization at the Solanco Fair/Solanco Parade (float), ads in newspapers, ads in other sports team programs, yard signs…really anything to get our name and the sport out in the community. The board has been able to obtain sponsorships, fundraisers, planning committees, etc, to fund and develop our club. We are looking to approach the Solanco School Board in the next month or so to show the numbers in growth and pursue school sponsorship and PIAA status. We have developed a coaching staff at all levels, and drastic growth in numbers, especially the past two years.”
How much does it cost for a player to participate in the Solanco club lacrosse program each season?
A: “It’s $150 for the boys varsity and $120 for the girls varsity, and $100 for a youth team.”
What does that pay for?
A: “Paint, nets, balls, paying the referees, US Lacrosse membership, registration fees in the youth leagues.”
What’s the competitiveness level of your boys varsity team?
A: “I do have those players that are still learning to pass and catch. But they hustle. ...I think if today if we were part of the L-L League we could get off the bus and compete with some of the smaller programs like a Conestoga Valley.”
What is it about lacrosse that you think benefits the kids?
A: “It’s like any sport. You get physical conditioning. This sport is so free-flowing. It’s the oldest sport in America. ...and like any team sport, you develop a brotherhood and a bond with your teammates that might last a lifetime.”