I Hopped Off the Plane at LAX

When Miley Cyrus sang that she hopped off the plane at LAX, she did not mean a lacrosse game.

But she should have.

Lacrosse, a game invented by Native Americans, used to be the province of northeastern prep schools. But the sport has been working its way down the Eastern seaboard.

Beginning this spring, it will land at Stratford. IMG_8660

The Academy will launch both boys and girls lacrosse as a club sport this spring, and will field a varsity team beginning next year when Stratford joins the GHSA, Head of School Dr. Robert Veto announced in an e-mail to the Stratford community on Oct. 25.

“I think I’m most looking forward to representing my school on the lacrosse field,” said 8th grader Jack Kelly, who currently plays club lacrosse and is planning to join Stratford’s team. “It’ll be cool to show people what lacrosse is about. I’m just really excited to play.”

The addition of the sport was largely because of pressure from Stratford families involved in Macon Youth Lacrosse, a local club founded in 2011 which now fields five squads for both boys and girls between the ages of six and 15.

“When the youth lacrosse team in Macon started picking up steam,” Veto said, “some parents came to me and said Stratford kids were very involved and asked if there was a chance that the school would get a team, and I told them there was a chance that it would come to Stratford.”

The decision was made after a committee of parents and board members, as well as Athletic Director Grady Smith, discussed and researched the issue for half a year.

Ms. Katie Durkee, one of the parents on the committee whose son – 8th grader Steve Durkee plays for Macon Youth Lacrosse – said the timing of Stratford’s move to the GHSA played a key role in the decision.

“Lacrosse is recognized as a j.v. and varsity sport in the GHSA only.  Stratford moving to the GHSA was instrumental in adding lacrosse,” she said.

Mercer University also recently added both varsity men’s and women’s lacrosse, Durkee noted, adding a critical mass of coaches and players in the local area.

Coach Josh Pico, who currently works with Mercer’s lacrosse program, will be coaching the team this spring.

The only real hurdles lacrosse now faces are recruiting players and finding a field.

“I think the largest recruiters will be the students we have already got at Stratford playing the sport. I think they will help to recruit players,” Smith said.

IMG_8664As for field space, Smith said that Stratford will make due with its current facilities – along with those of Mercer – for the time being.

“There are no current plans to build a field. For now, we will utilize what we have. When the season starts, we’ll play on the football field plus use Mercer’s fields, given the opportunity,” Smith said.

One of the biggest concerns, according to parents involved in the planning committee, was how adding lacrosse would affect other spring sports – especially the Academy’s champion boys and girls soccer teams.

“The initial reaction to that is now we’ve added another sport at the same time that soccer is being played, so my concern is how many soccer players will I lose to lacrosse? My biggest concern is how will it affect my number of athletes?,” Boys Soccer Coach Ian Hayley said.

Middle school principal and girls soccer coach Mr. Andrew Myler added, “In the past, soccer players have been able to manage commitments to soccer and other spring sports – particularly track and tennis. However, I think competing in both soccer and lacrosse would prove more difficult. My hope is that the GHSA will revisit the assignments of seasons for some sports.”IMG_8697