Keith Quigley is a big fan of sports that do not fit into the mainstream psyche such as football and basketball. He’s a hockey and lacrosse man, befitting someone brought up in New York and Massachusetts.
“Those two sports complement one another,” he said. “In New York, if you play hockey, you play lacrosse. If you play lacrosse, you play hockey.”
Quigley has since settled into the California lifestyle, and befitting that eclectic lifestyle, he’s managed to bring a bit of the East Coast with him. It’s been a great addition to South Bay youth sports.
Quigley has coached the Bonita Vista High School roller hockey team since its inception in 1998; more recently he’s been able to bring his two passions — hockey and lacrosse — together to reach a larger audience at the youth and middle school levels via his PUCKidz program.
The acronym stands for Positive Understandable Coaching for Kidz.
It’s a mantra for Quigley.
“I want to be a coach and a leader and for kids to have fun,” he said. “I want players to be well-rounded and really stress a positive environment.”
Quigley is among the individuals who are making a difference in the lives of young people in South County by making a contribution to growing the sport of lacrosse locally.
Besides his hockey duties at BVHS, Quigley also serves as head coach for the South Bay Outlaws youth lacrosse program. It’s under the umbrella of his PUCKidz program that he operates a lacrosse program called LAX619 where he offers various lacrosse camps and clinics.
His latest LAX619 summer camp at Explorer Park in Rancho del Rey attracted 26 kids, grades three through eight. It was the third of three camps this summer. That might not seem like an overwhelming number but Quigley feels it’s a turning point for his fledgling program as he helps jump-start youth lacrosse in the South County region.
“This was one of the most exciting weeks in a long time,” he said. “I’m trying to grow the game, to be like the East Coast where it’s very popular. It’s just starting to grow here in the South Bay. We’re just getting the word out about lacrosse.”
What is encouraging to Quigley is that so far he hasn’t encountered a youth player who didn’t enjoying grabbing a stick. What was also encouraging to Quigley was that a sizable number of the recent camp attendees were new to the sport.
Growing the game
Quigley said he strives to provide a positive environment and energy where kids have a chance to succeed.
He is seeing two sets of kids at his camps. The first set involves kids who have been playing a year or two and want to improve their skills; the second set includes kids who are new to the game.
“Lacrosse is growing each year,” Quigley said. “Lacrosse is year-round. If not playing in a league, kids are at camp. They are keeping busy.”
Because he is involved teaching the game to different age groups with different attention spans, his techniques vary.
He stresses the fundamentals, of course, for the younger age groups. Those would include shooting, team play and passing. The latter is the key, he said.
For the older age groups, Quigley stresses shooting and dodging, passing and defense.
To be a complete lacrosse player, Quigley feels a player must be adept at both shooting and dodging, though he stresses passing because, in his words, “it opens up the defense and creates shots to score.”
Above all, however, having fun is placed first. That’s apparent by watching an informal intra-squad scrimmage. That vibe is easily picked up by parents.
A native of Germany, Andrea Krautscheid has lived in both Britain and the United States. What she especially likes about this country is its diversity. That would include sports, as well.
She had two sons participate in Quigley’s latest summer camp. Simon is 13; Kevin is 10.
She was previously introduced to Quigley through the DASH program (Dynamic After School Hours), formerly a joint program of the city of Chula Vista’s Educational Services Division and the Chula Vista Elementary School District in which he was involved for 10 years.
“Simon has played everything out there — soccer, gymnastics, swimming — but I’ve never seen him so excited about any other sport (than lacrosse),” she said.
There’s little question that lacrosse is gaining a foothold in the South Bay. This past season, the Outlaws fielded a team with third- and fourth-graders to go with the program’s fifth- and sixth-grade squad and two middle school teams. Future plans are to open the program to even younger players as well as forming a girls team.
The Hilltop High School girls lacrosse team became the first Metro Conference team — boys or girls — to win a San Diego Section playoff game last spring. It’s been a decade in the making.
The next step is to qualify more teams for the CIF playoffs — and pick up more wins. Both will come as players are introduced to the game at younger ages and thereby bring more playing experience to the high school ranks.
Quigley said seeing many former Outlaws now in local high school programs gives him a great sense of satisfaction. In fact, the Outlaws’ middle school teams played a halftime exhibition game to highlight the Eastlake-Otay Ranch boys lacrosse rivalry matchup earlier this spring at Otay Ranch High School.
The event was dubbed South Bay Family Lacrosse Night. It is hoped to continue with future editions.
“I try to go to the high school games to follow up on them, whether it’s at Eastlake, Otay or Bonita,” he said. “I keep up with them. I stress having a good attitude as an athlete and being a leader. It’s a good feeling to be recognized as a coach by past athletes.”
That connection comes full circle. Assisting Quigley during the LAX619 camps were South Bay Outlaws “graduates” Jason Bergado, Carlo Reyes, Jordan Vicente and Diego Cervantes.
Cervantes and Bergado are both sophomores at Bonita Vista High School, while Vicente is a sophomore at Eastlake High School and Reyes is a sophomore at Olympian High School.
Bergado played junior varsity lacrosse for the Barons his freshman year, finishing as the JV team’s leading scorer with 28 goals. He’s looking forward to making the varsity team next spring.
“I love the stick,” Bergado said. “It feels so fantastic catching and throwing the ball with it and doing moves.”
Vicente was an impact performer for the Titans as a freshman, earning Second Team All-Metro Conference honors.
While Olympian currently does not have a lacrosse program, Reyes hopes that will change in the near future. Until that happens, he continues to play club lacrosse with area high school-age teams.
Both Bergado and Reyes enjoyed working with younger players at the most recent LAX619 camp.
“It was fun teaching them how to play — helping them get prepared so when they get in leagues they know what’s happening,” Reyes said.
For more information, visit PUCKidz.net.
Trent Warren contributed to the preparation of this story.