Like daughter, like father

AT PLAY

After an 18-year break from lacrosse, Don Harrison has followed in his teen's footsteps

At play

May 10, 2006|By JEFF SEIDEL | JEFF SEIDEL,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Don Harrison didn't realize how much his daughter's decision in 1999 to start playing lacrosse would change his life.

Sure, Harrison had played one season in high school and coached boys lacrosse for five more after college. But he hadn't been involved in the sport for 18 years when his daughter Amy, then in third grade, asked to start playing.

The Arnold resident started coaching her team in the Broadneck Youth Lacrosse organization and eventually became the president of the newly formed Girls Lacrosse Association of Anne Arundel County.

Now he's in his fourth year in the volunteer position, overseeing programs for about 2,000 girls.

The 52-year-old estimates that he spends about 30 hours a week on its activities during the spring - in addition to his full-time job as president of Capitalist Investment Services, based in Severna Park.

"You wouldn't do it unless you get something out of it," Harrison said. "I enjoy working with the kids, and I enjoy teaching and seeing a girl improve and develop confidence in herself."

Paul Burdette, a business partner of Harrison's, is impressed with how hard Harrison works to make the association grow.

"Don is able to balance both his professional responsibilities and the organization," Burdette said. "He's done a tremendous job."

Among his first challenges was recruiting enough qualified officials to work the games.

The lacrosse association began working with Arnold-based Matrix Sports to do that - and to train the new recruits and monitor their progress. Matrix and the association now use high school girls who know the sport to serve as referees most of the time.

Harrison always seems to get a little more added to his plate each season. This year, he launched a new program for girls who want to play lacrosse but aren't on a high school team.

The Senior League gives girls who were cut from their school teams or might not have the time to be at daily practices and games another chance to play.

The league features four teams and about 90 players, and Harrison predicts that it will grow to six teams and 120 players next year.

Harrison also has helped with another program founded in 1996 called Crosseover Lacrosse. Steve Willett is in charge of Crosseover, which gives girls ages 13 to 15 the opportunity either to host players from or go to Stockport, a southern suburb of Manchester, England, for about two weeks to play lacrosse and visit.

Harrison coaches his daughter's team - Amy's now a sophomore at St. Mary's School in Annapolis.

"I go out and check games [regularly], and he's always out checking games," said Josh Roach, an athletic supervisor with Anne Arundel County Recreation and Parks. "He's really involved and always available for questions."

Harrison never played lacrosse until his senior year of high school. He went out for the St. Mary's team as a lark and discovered that lacrosse was fun. Harrison got plenty of playing time and later was an assistant with his alma mater's junior varsity team for three years before holding the same job with the Annapolis boys varsity team for two more seasons.

That stopped in 1981. He didn't get back to the sport until his daughter made her move.

Harrison had to make an adjustment when starting to coach his daughter's teams. Girls lacrosse has different rules, style and equipment. But Harrison dived right into it and quickly found his way.

"No one's going to make a living playing lacrosse, men or women," Harrison said. "But I've always believed that sports are a means to higher ends. I like the character-building aspect of it."

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