I know this seems like a strange thing to blog about, especially given the overall theme of my other posts, but this letter is meant to lend my support and my appreciation to this person who is new to the landscape of lacrosse in Chesterfield County. This person is walking into a difficult position, but is willing to consider the possibility of fully sanctioned Virginia High School League (VHSL) lacrosse programs for boys and girls at his new high school. Considering that lacrosse is the fastest growing sport in the country, I believe that our kids are seriously behind the 8-ball by *not* offering this sport across the board.
It’s astounding to me that we’ve had kids who have felt the need to leave their home public high schools; however qualified those schools may be, to attend private schools that might give them the opportunity to play their favorite sport at the collegiate level. AC, a teammate of my younger son, transferred to St. Anne’s-Belfield in Charlottesville, and was subsequently recruited by several Division I programs, eventually settling on Georgetown University. CC, another former teammate, has recently transferred to a local private school with designs of being seen as a serious recruit to also play at the Division I level in college. These kids shouldn’t have to leave their friends and transfer to a private school when the academic caliber of our public HS’s is so high. Offering lacrosse as a VHSL sanctioned sport in a second HS in Chesterfield could only do GOOD for our community. As much as people want to tout football as the only sport people will come out to watch on a Friday night, the Freeman program was able to bring a huge number of people to the stands when they held a lacrosse doubleheader (boys game followed a girls game, I believe) on a Friday night this spring. That’s the sort of thing that creates school unity, team bonding, and a positive community feeling… right?
My son, E, was lucky… we spent a great deal of time and effort in his recruitment effort, but the question we kept hearing was, “why isn’t he playing for his HS team”. To have to then detail the lack of available programs in our area was almost embarrassing. People were simply stunned that lacrosse was not available as a varsity sport in Richmond, Virginia. HS’s in neighboring counties were adding lacrosse, or had programs in the pipeline, but we were continually told that our AD’s and principals were strongly against adding lacrosse to their athletic roster. E’s saving grace was a combination of his skill in the classroom (33 on his ACT) and his talent on the field. He played for a travel club lacrosse team (Richmond Shock) throughout the year, all through his high school career, and ended up signing an academic letter of intent (he was given no athletic funds as he was awarded a full-tuition academic scholarship) to a Division II school. E subsequently realized that he needed a more academic focus and transferred to UVA last year, where he played on the UVA men’s club lacrosse team and is now one of their club officers. He also believes in giving back and is spending his summer working lacrosse camps and helping to coach the Richmond Shock HS-A team during tournaments. Lacrosse is a huge part of his life.
As I’ve written before, my older son, D, had a rockier introduction to lacrosse. The only option for him to play lacrosse came through the now defunct Swift Creek Lacrosse Program. He played during his last two years of HS and rarely had an adult coach who could help him learn the sport. Even so, when his college decision came down to being a member of the band or a varsity athlete, he chose the school that would allow him to be an athlete. D played varsity lacrosse at Hood College (Frederick, MD) for four years and, after graduating with a degree in chemistry, has decided to go back to school to become a Certified Athletic Trainer. He loves the sport of lacrosse. He now joins his brother in the ranks of coaching lacrosse, helping conduct weekly camps and also as an assistant coach for the Richmond Shock HS-B team.
As for my own participation with lacrosse, I have been associated with the board of Richmond Shock lacrosse since 2005. I was Coach Barnard’s team manager for two years and became their Athletic Director/Scheduler shortly after Coach left to start the Midlothian program. I became a free-lance sports photographer in 2009 and have been on the sidelines to shoot Navy Football (for GoMids.com), RMAL swim championships (for the past three years), and have been requested to shoot a number of area HS events and local championship/senior nights as well as the Richmond Chapter of US Lacrosse’s annual HS All-Star game. I don’t take this sport or its future in our community lightly. I have worked diligently to support those who envision a day where HS Lacrosse is the expectation and *not* the exception.
As you come into this new job as Principal of Midlothian HS, I’m sure you are wondering if adding lacrosse can really be that important to your new community. It is my opinion that you would be remiss in dismissing this program without serious consideration. At Coach Barnard’s request, Weaver Athletic Association sponsored the Midlothian LC for the past four years. They’ve worked within a budget, purchased any needed equipment, and procured any and all field space on which Midlothian LC played. They’ve allowed Coach Barnard and Assistant Coach Jason Trueblood to create a program of which you will be proud. He approaches the program with the dedication of a college coach and works hard to instill the necessary values in his players that will carry them through to the next level. He is, in essence, handing you a program that is completely formed and thoroughly planned. To allow this opportunity to pass you by would be a sad commentary on the future, both for our children and for the great sport of lacrosse.
Lacrosse is growing… and Chesterfield county schools need to join the ranks or be trampled by them.
With all my best wishes as you begin this new chapter of Midlothian High School,
Freelance Sports Photographer (AliSportShots.com)
Richmond Shock AD