Coaches and young athletes showed up in force to the December 4 meeting of the New Paltz Board of Education to lobby for a modified lacrosse team to support children too young to try out for the junior varsity and varsity teams. They are asking that such a team be funded for the spring semester, but with the budget for this school year approved by voters last May, that could prove a challenge. Nevertheless, trustees appeared to be open to at least exploring the idea at a future meeting.
Parents and coaches articulated their passion for this particularly American sport as the athletes themselves stood by with their equipment at the ready. Interest in lacrosse locally is on an upswing that tracks with statewide and national trends, trustees were told, and in Ulster County only the New Paltz and Saugerties districts lack modified teams. That makes it difficult for New Paltz players at that age to find opponents, as the school teams are apparently what the kids are joining. The cost to equip and register each child was estimated at $600-700, but it’s not yet clear if there are other costs associated with fielding a team, such as transportation. Coaches for some, but not all, school teams receive stipends, as well.
One point made quite clearly is that this is an ask for both girls’ and boys’ teams for this age range; one parent opined from the gallery that having a lacrosse team would give girls cut from other teams another chance to participate in a sport. Parent Tim Rogers asserted that girls who play sports in college are 25% more likely to serve in elected office, drawing a line from early participation to that point. On the other hand, trustee Teresa Thompson, whose husband has coached the girls’ varsity and junior varsity lacrosse teams, said that last year there were barely enough players to field a junior varsity team.