Paige Patterson prepares for Under Armour All-America Classic by hosting backyard summer camp

June 29, 2012

Phyllis Patterson gave her twins plenty of warning, reminding the recent St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes graduates last fall that they’d need summer jobs to fill the weeks before they left for college.

Her son Parker, a second-team All-Met soccer player who will play at Richmond, filled out applications and scheduled interviews. Eventually, he landed a job at a local boating supply store.

Meanwhile, daughter Paige, an All-Met lacrosse player, chose a different tack. This week, 13 girls, many wielding lacrosse sticks almost as tall as them, zipped around the family’s Mount Vernon back yard. With teammate Lizz Lavie, Paige Patterson transformed the small waterfront plot into a field for an unlikely lacrosse camp for girls between the ages of 6 and 11. In two weeks of coaching and leading craft projects, the enterprising teenagers hope to make about $2,000 apiece.

Parker is “jealous,” said Patterson, one of six local players who will participate in Saturday’s Under Armour All-America Lacrosse Classic at Towson University. “He sometimes has to wake up pretty early, and he’s there [at work] all day on his feet.

“It’s fun that we get to do something that we love other than checking people out at a cash register. I think time flies pretty fast here.”

Patterson, 18, realized her summer wouldn’t hold time to balance a conventional job. Since graduation on June 9, she’s already made a trip to the Bahamas and attended orientation and lacrosse camp at North Carolina, where she will play next spring. Throw in an upcoming tournament in Colorado, and she only had a few weeks free.

Patterson and Lavie, who will play at California, spent the past few months spreading the word about their camp. They made a flyer advertising their vision (Lacrossse! Swimming! Arts & Crafts!). Then, they e-mailed it to local youth coaches, posted it around Alexandria and stuffed it in envelopes to send to families in the St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes community.

As the first session neared, the fledgling camp directors made a final list of the lacrosse drills they planned for each day, relying heavily on lessons from St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes Coach Kathy Jenkins, whose own daughters ran similar camps out of her back yard in the late 1990s.

They collected money and emergency contact information from parents and spent a few more hours at a local craft store picking out supplies for their projects, which included decorating cloth bags and foam princess crowns.

“When we were in middle school, some seniors did it and we thought it was just the coolest thing ever,” Lavie said. “It’s weird that we’re in their position now.”

The sport’s growing popularity has ensured local players plenty of summer options. There are three lacrosse camps for primary school girls being held on campus at St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes alone this year, but Patterson and Lavie’s first session filled up quickly. They plan to hold a second session in two weeks and hope to continue it next year.

Kellie Cronin of Alexandria dropped daughter Margaux , 6,off at the Patterson’s home on Monday for her first lacrosse camp.


Former St. Stephen's/St. Agnes lacrosse players Lizz Lavie, left, and Paige Patterson look over the schedule their lacrosse instructions. Patterson started a summer camp in her backyard instead of getting a tradition summer job. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

“I’ve seen what Paige has accomplished through hard work,” said Cronin, whose older son played soccer with Patterson growing up. “She’s a good, positive role model for all these kids. When I heard she was doing a camp, I wanted to get my girl right in here.”

This week, Patterson and Lavie quickly realized that even the best-laid plans require a bit of flexibility when it comes to running a summer camp, especially when it’s in the back yard.

Lavie worked with the younger girls — a few of whom had only played the game in gym class — on the basics of throwing and cradling, while Patterson supervised the older campers as they whipped green lacrosse balls backand forth, counting their successful catches.

Occasionally, a camper grew weary of the drills and retreated to the family’s hammock for awhile before rejoining the action. At one point Tuesday, Patterson had to coax her 1-year-old black lab, Jorge, to drop the mouth guard he swiped from an unsuspecting girl.

After two hours of lacrosse and two more spent on crafts and swimming, the campers settled in front of the wide-screen living room television for a showing of “High School Musical.” Patterson and Lavie didn’t get too comfortable. Soon it would be snack time.

In planning it, “we were like, ‘Oh, If we were in camp, we would want to do this,’ ” Patterson said with a laugh. “We bought princess crowns for ourselves [to decorate with the campers.] It’s been fun for us, too.”

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