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Growing a Lacrosse Club: Michael Cervantes, Steelhead Lacrosse Club

Growing a Lacrosse Club: Michael Cervantes, Steelhead Lacrosse Club

In this episode of Clubhouse Talks, we explore the surging popularity of lacrosse in Illinois with Michael Cervantes, the Director of Steelhead Lacrosse Club. Located in the north suburbs of Illinois, Steelhead stands out as a premier travel lacrosse program. Join us as Michael unveils the intricacies of building a successful lacrosse program, from effective marketing strategies to invaluable tips for those looking to start their teams, and so much more. Whether you're a die-hard lacrosse fan, an aspiring player, or simply intrigued by the sport's expanding presence in Illinois, this interview is packed with unique insights that showcase the heart and soul poured into the game.


Michael Cervantes has been deeply involved in the game of lacrosse for a substantial portion of his life. His journey started at St. Viator High School, continued through his college years at Robert Morris University, and reached a peak with his representation of the Mexico national team, giving him a ton of experience on the field. After his playing career concluded, Cervantes shifted to coaching, gathering over a decade of experience with high school and travel programs across the northern suburbs of Chicago. Currently, Cervantes serves as an assistant coach for the Lake Forest College men’s lacrosse team, while also leading as the Director of the Steelhead Lacrosse Club.

Steelhead Lacrosse Club

Steelhead Lacrosse Club pinpointed Vernon Hills, Libertyville, and Mundelein in the northern suburbs as locations lacking in lacrosse training and development opportunities. The aim was to ensure families in these areas could easily access a program that provides elite lacrosse coaching for their children. Cervantes clarifies that the decision to initiate the program was influenced by its location, which then laid the groundwork for establishing its standards.

The Five C's

Cervantes and the Steelhead Lacrosse Club are defined by the Five C's: culture, community, consistency, communication, and commitment. Each action taken by the program aligns with one or more of these core values, ensuring their embodiment in all aspects of the club's operations. While the importance of each value may vary, together, they form the foundation of a successful program. Notably, Cervantes emphasized in the interview that among the Five C's, culture holds the most significance.

Lacrosse Landscape

Lacrosse is traditionally a spring sport at both the community and high school levels. However, a variety of options exist for athletes looking to enhance their skills and continue their development in the offseason. Clubs like Steelhead provide young players with opportunities to participate in camps, undergo training, and compete in tournaments throughout the rest of the year, ensuring continuous growth and improvement in the sport.

Future of the Sport

Despite recently becoming the fastest-growing sport in America, lacrosse is still experiencing a period of expansion. Programs like Steelhead play an important role in this growth by introducing new athletes to the sport, facilitating their first experience with lacrosse, and encouraging more children to take up the game. Cervantes further emphasizes the importance of their mission, stating that without the necessary efforts from him and coaches nationwide, children might not take the opportunity to play lacrosse.

Marketing Strategies

Creating a strong first impression through marketing is crucial for any business, particularly for a youth sports program aiming to attract participants. With many people discovering programs via social media, consistently delivering relevant content is key. This strategy ensures that potential participants understand the benefits offered by clubs like Steelhead. Cervantes expresses the necessity of sharing high-quality content from practices, events, and tournaments regularly. Such consistency not only builds brand awareness but also showcases the club's value and commitment to its players.

Tips for Starting a Club

Cervantes believes that for someone passionate about sports and interested in starting a club at an entrepreneurial level, like Steelhead, there are three key tips to follow:

  1. Always maintain honesty.
  2. Prioritize overcommunication.
  3. Surround yourself with great people.

In the final part of the interview, Cervantes goes deeper into these three essential tips for anyone looking to start a youth sports program.

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