Doug Wiles’s Pioneering Role in Bowling Green Lacrosse

by | Aug 2023

STEP INTO the heart of our close-knit town, and you’ll discover incredible experiences and exciting activities that bring our community to life. But our neighbors’ dedication and hard work truly make a difference, enriching lives one day at a time. One shining example in the Bowling Green community is Doug Wiles. 

Wiles joined the community with his family in 1984 and has lived here ever since. As a proud graduate of Western Kentucky University (WKU), he felt a deep desire to give back to his alma mater. For 30 years, he dedicated himself to his craft, and after retiring, he decided to work for the Warren County Sheriff’s Office and our city’s parks and recreation program. 

With two sons, Gabriel and Alex, who were deeply involved in martial arts for several years, they decided to expand their horizons, and Wiles and his wife encouraged them to pursue lacrosse. The two boys immediately fell in love with the sport and joined a travel team and the region’s only youth lacrosse team. 

When Wiles’s oldest son started attending Bowling Green High School, he eagerly joined the inaugural lacrosse team. However, his younger son, who was in middle school then, lacked the same opportunity. Wiles organized after-school lacrosse practices to ensure his youngest son and his friends didn’t lose their skills during the off-season and had a chance to play in high school. 

What started with Wiles’s son and three friends quickly blossomed into a team of 40 enthusiastic kids. Encouraged by this response, Wiles revived the travel team and sought assistance from Bowling Green Parks and Recreation to secure practice locations and field rentals five years ago. 

Photographed by Amanda Guy.

Wiles remarked, “I began working with Bowling Green Parks and Rec to rent fields and set up practice locations, and then I was able to host games by renting fields from them. After some time, the city parks and rec were familiar with my program, and they asked me to come on board with them and set up a middle school program for parks and rec. So I was happy to do that.” 

Despite having no prior experience, Wiles played a crucial role in spearheading local lacrosse programs. Today, our city’s parks and recreation department proudly supports six lacrosse teams from kindergarten to eighth grade, engaging in thrilling games against teams from various towns. They also hold exhibition games with the South Warren Middle School lacrosse team.

Our city offers spring, summer, and fall leagues to keep our community’s children active and engaged. Three teams in each division compete in regular leagues each season, playing eight games throughout the season. Additionally, they hold weekly practices a couple of times a week.

The lacrosse program saw an impressive turnout of 75 to 100 kids eagerly participating this past spring and fall. During the summer, a smaller developmental league allows 35 to 50 kids to maintain their skills and stay connected to the sport they love.

Photographed by Amanda Guy

Numerous athletes have progressed from the recreational league to high school and college lacrosse. 

Wiles said, “All our programs are geared toward enabling the boys and girls to transition to high school lacrosse and continue to play. And we’ve had great success with that.”

Former college players and current high school coaches have also returned to the program, strengthening its foundations and sharing their invaluable expertise.

With heartfelt joy, Wiles said, “I really enjoy watching the kids continue their high school career and then advance to the next level.”

Lacrosse has a unique way of captivating athletes from various backgrounds, drawing them into its exciting and dynamic realm. 

Photographed by Amanda Guy

He explained, “Players often come from a soccer, baseball, or football background. They transition to lacrosse and, often, find that the game is much more exciting than they expected it to be. It’s a fun sport to watch, play, and be involved in.”

Wiles’s remarkable journey has inspired other parents to step up as lacrosse coaches, witnessing the transformative impact on their own children who played in the recreational league. The program now boasts a former University of Kentucky women’s lacrosse goalie as a volunteer coach.

Starting a recreational league of any kind presents its fair share of financial challenges and logistical hurdles. Fortunately, Bowling Green Parks and Recreation does everything possible to provide assistance. 

Exciting news awaits local lacrosse enthusiasts as the Kentucky High School Athletic Association recently voted to sanction lacrosse as an official high school sport starting from the 2025 school year. This development will undoubtedly drive increased participation and boost morale for the sport in our city. Wiles envisions a program with both boys and girls lacrosse teams in the near future. GN 

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