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Lacrosse Players Advocate For Varsity At Mount Greylock

By Andy McKeever

School Principal Tim Payne said he will lead a committee to explore bringing the teams to the school.

 

Dozens of youth lacrosse players showed their support for Jeff Stripp's proposal to bring the sport to the high school.

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Dozens of youth lacrosse players crowded the Mount Greylock Regional High School meeting room Tuesday to advocate for a varsity program.

The school currently lends its name to a lacrosse club in the Berkshire County Lacrosse Association's league and coach Jeff Stripp led the group request for the school committee to appropriate about $19,000 to start junior varsity and varsity men's and women's teams. He was supported by a room full of coaches and youth lacrosse players spanning from third grade on.

"We've been patient and we've done our homework," Stripp, who is also the president of the Williamstown Lacrosse Association, said. "They want to go to Western Mass. They want to give it a go against teams outside of Berkshire county."

Operating the teams would cost a total of about $26,000, with $7,500 of that being covered by user fees and booster clubs, Stripp said, and will help the school in a number of ways.

The program will help recruit school choice and new residents, it will connect more students with the school, generate more school pride and can lead to college opportunities that otherwise would not be available for some students, he said.

"Sports programs are important to some people," Stripp said. "Sanctioned lacrosse has the opportunity to attract new residents and school choice."

The surrounding youth leagues have had steady interest and the sport is growing nationally, Strip said. Recently Pittsfield schools voted to fund high school teams; the more teams that join the lower transportation costs will be, Strip said. The current high school clubs hover around 50 players per season and each team requires only about 20 players.

"It's about the kids that I've coached and the parents I've met," Stripp said. "It really is a low cost per player."

The program can really change students for the better by giving them a sense of pride and connecting them with the rest of the community, he said. Student Kim Houston said she has seen first-hand her peers change attitudes after joining the teams.

The success of the teams will not just hinge on that club, though. Williams College coach George McCormack said the college will help the high school team by providing clinics and fields.

While the School Committee expressed a desire to start the team, budget restraints will prevent the formation. The committee appointed school Principal Tim Payne to head a committee to further explore the proposal for next year.

"In a good year it would not be a big deal but it is going to be those costs that will be a determining factor," Robert Ericson, committee chairman, said.

Committee member Heather Williams said that she likes the proposal but did not like that the athletes have to purchase their own equipment. Stripp said that lacrosse equipment is very personalized and students would purchase their own anyway. Some equipment would be gifted from the club to the school if the transition is made.

"Students should not have to pay for school activities," Williams said. "This is really the worst possible time to come and ask us for money."

Committee member David Langston added that the school would have to budget for the entire $26,000 just in case the booster clubs and user fees come in short of Stripp's estimates.

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