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Steve Stenersen (US Lacrosse CEO): Too Many In Youth Sports Put Profit Ahead Of Kids

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 Editors note; The following article originally ran in June 2012 for our “Sports Dads Month” focus on dads we identified as helping to keep all kids safe.

Being the father of an athlete is a challenging yet rewarding role. At MomsTEAM we think sports dads deserve to be honored, not just on the third Sunday in June, but for an entire month. So we have designated June as National Sports Dads Month and invited some veteran sports dads to share their wisdom by responding to a series of questions.

USA Lacrosse CEO Steve Stenersen and son Cole

Today, we hear from Steve Stenersen, CEO of US Lacrosse:

MomsTEAM: Were you an athlete and what sports did you play as a youth (under 19)?

Stenersen: I've enjoyed playing team sports for as long as I can remember. I went to St. Paul's School, a private Episcopal school for boys north of Baltimore, from kindergarten through 12th grade. While there, I played football, basketball and lacrosse throughout middle and upper school. I graduated at age 17 and went on to play lacrosse at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where we won Division I NCAA championships my junior and senior years (1981 and 1982).

MomsTEAM; What is the most rewarding aspect of being a sports dad?

Stenersen: There's nothing like seeing my son (age 12)(that's him in the picture with me) and daughter (age 14) having fun on an athletic field. The challenges and lessons learned through a positive team sports experience are invaluable to a child's physical and social development.

MomsTEAM: What is the most important lesson your child is learning from his/her sport?

MomsTEAM: They're both learning to work with other kids of differing backgrounds and abilities in an effort to reach a common goal. They are learning how to win and lose while keeping either outcome in proper perspective.

MomsTEAM: If you could "flip a switch" and change one thing about the culture of youth sports what would it be?

Stenersen: I would eliminate the profit motive, which continues to corrupt the purity of youth sports. Growing numbers of private clubs and tournaments are too often motivated more by a business plan than by what's best for a child. And, fewer and fewer coaches are using their positions of influence to combat this trend, in many cases because they have become involved in lucrative youth sports enterprises themselves.

MomsTEAM: Brag a little:what have you done to make sports better for? Please share.

Stenersen: I've served as the CEO of US Lacrosse, the sport's national governing body, since its formation in 1998. Prior to that, I was the executive director for one of the eight lacrosse organizations that merged to form US Lacrosse. During that combined 28 years, I've travelled extensively throughout the country and world (as chair of the Federation of International Lacrosse Development Committee for a decade) to help introduce and nurture both men's and women's lacrosse at all levels of play. I've been heavily involved in almost every aspect of the sport -- from the creation of thousands of new lacrosse programs, to the establishment of groundbreaking injury research, to the development of standardized educational curricula -- and am proud to continue to play a role in the development of what has become the fastest-growing sport in the United States. US Lacrosse now has over 400,000 members within 64 regional chapters across more than 40 states.

Steve StenersenSteve Stenersen is President and CEO of US Lacrosse. He was previously Executive Director for The Lacrosse Foundation.  Steve has served on the American College of Sports Medicine Concussion Working Group, is currently serving as President of Baltimore Station, a South Baltimore homeless shelter, and has served on a variety of community and civic organizations in his native Baltimore. In 2007, Steve was recognized as One of America's Most Influential Sports Educators.  He played college lacrosse at the University of North Carolina, which won back-to-back NCAA Division 1 Men's Lacrosse Championships in 1981 and 1982, serving as co-captain his senior year, and later was a player and co-captain for the Mt. Washington Lacrosse Club from 1983 to 1990, winning the Mt. Washington Cup in 1986 and the Krongard Trophy in 1990.  Steve  and his wife are the parents of a 12-year-old soccer, basketball, and lacrosse-playing son, and a 14-year old daughter who plays soccer and lacrosse.