You can see him on the sidelines of fields standing in sleet and snow or under a blistering sun. Whether it’s March winds, April showers or the occasional nice day in May, he’s good to go. He’s got his whistle in his mouth and his clipboard in his hand. He’s shouting out directions, encouragement and, on occasion, a word or two for the ref. He’s Jeff Penney, Elkhart Schools’ Pied Piper of Lacrosse.
Lacrosse is a fast paced and action packed sport. For those of you who don’t know, Lacrosse is played on an open field with players using metal sticks with a net on one end trying to get a hard rubber ball into their opponent’s goal. Hitting an opponent with your stick can be perfectly legal and what teenager doesn’t get a kick out of whacking another kid?
Jeff is an evangelist for the sport that is still pretty new in our region. He discovered his love for it when he lived back east. He has coached young kids and as well as those in high school and college. For most of his Elkhart players, playing lacrosse is new and different, but they are enthusiastic and dedicated. Jeff enjoys that his teams have all kinds of kids and he loves when one of his players tells him how cool it is to play lacrosse.
Jeff’s wife Erin sums it up nicely: “He’s the kindest man in the world. The kids love him. He loves the kids. He makes them laugh and yet most carefully executes the highest level of education and emotional support to every single child.”