Northern California Junior Lacrosse AssociationWith more than 50 Junior Lacrosse Clubs in the Northern California area – each with a varied number of boys and girls teams per age group – the Northern California Junior Lacrosse Association (NCJLA) oversees the sport and safety of approximately 8,500 players.

Now in its third season, the NCJLA Certified Coaches Program was created to add an additional layer of safety on the field – and currently certifies over 1,200 coaches.

Certified Coach ID Cards Required for Field Access

Once a NCJLA coach or assistant coach becomes certified, the NCJLA issues “NCJLA Certified Coach” cards that coaches are required to wear on a lanyard around their necks while on the field for all games.

ID Card Group creates and provides the Certified Coach’s cards for the NCJLA, along with the lanyards worn for displaying the credentials. ID Card Group president Mark Soeth is also president of the Davis Lacrosse Association and is a certified coach.

Credential Enforcement

Game officials verify that every coach on the sidelines has their NCJLA Certified Coach card at the beginning of each game. Only an NCJLA Certified coach with a valid and visible coach’s card may stand with the team and coach during an NCJLA game.

Any coach who does not have their NCJLA coach’s certification card or a legible copy or picture of it on their phone along with a photo ID must leave the team’s side of the field and move to the spectator’s side.  He/she may not coach from the spectator’s side of the field.

Cards with an additional yellow band identify coaches who are US Lacrosse Certified, in addition to being NCJLA Certified. The NCJLA recommends all head coaches be US Lacrosse Certified. 

NCJLA Certified Coach Program Requirements

According to NCJLA Executive Director, Nora Mitchell, “Board members thought it would be a good idea to be sure that all coaches working with young athletes have a minimum level of lacrosse education, be trained in how to connect with players in a positive manner, and above all to be sure they have a cleared background check for the safety of our youth.

From a parent’s perspective, it’s good to know that the league works to ensure that players are coached by adults who are capable and cleared as safe to be with children.”

NCJLA requires the following five requirements by met prior to certification:

  1. Cleared background check
  2. PCA online course or workshop
  3. US Lacrosse Level 1 online course
  4. US Lacrosse membership
  5. Signed Coaches Code of Conduct

Tips for Other Groups Considering Credential Programs

When asked how easy it was to administer the Certified Coaches Program, Mitchell responds, “I wouldn’t say “easy.”  But it’s been “manageable.”  Thanks to the great card production company [ID Card Group] and our staff.”

Mitchell states the biggest challenge she’s faced with program administration has been getting coaches and clubs to comply with requirements in a timely manner.

Mitchell offers these tips to others considering implementing a credential program:

  • Think your program through very thoroughly 
  • Make the decision in plenty of time to communicate/educate those who will have to get to work – ideally about 9 to 12 months in advance 
  • Think through the costs
  • Get buy in from constituents
  • Find a good card production partner to provide the credentials. ID Card Group has been wonderful to work with and their IDs are a large part of why our program is successful.

About the NCJLA

Since 1986, the Northern California Junior Lacrosse Association (NCJLA) has been:

  • Facilitating the growth of youth lacrosse (U-9 through U-15) in Northern California
  • Encouraging the growth of high school lacrosse through club teams and teams officially affiliated with local high schools

Lacrosse is the oldest known sport in North America – and the fastest growing. The NCJLA also offers team and player scholarships to encourage growth of the sport and participation throughout the Northern California region.

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