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Archive for Lacrosse

March 28, 2020 — Three extraordinary voices

We’ve heard volumes about sex discrimination in sports even though it’s been nearly 50 years since the passage of Title IX.

Rare is the time that we’ve heard from the students first-hand. But a softball player, a lacrosse player, and a power-lifter from Palo Alto (Calif.) have penned a pretty extraordinary triptych of stories about their high-school experiences, and it’s a good read.

March 27, 2019 — Even greater losses

If the entirety of the 2020 domestic girls’ and women’s lacrosse seasons are cancelled because of the Coronavirus contagion, this means that thousands of girls and young women are going to be sidelined, along with their coaches.

But let us not forget the umpires, who give up their spring afternoons officiating games and who have been spending unusual amounts of time the last several offseasons trying to re-learn large parts of the rulebook.

For a deeper perspective, read this story from Lacrosse Magazine.

 

March 26, 2020 — Lost in the midst of a pandemic

The world spread of COVID-19 is undeniable, given the fact that nearly a half-million people have tested positive for the virus, and some 22,000 have died worldwide.

But equally tragic, for the world of lacrosse, has been the aftermath of a car crash a couple of weekends ago in North Carolina.

The crash, involving a Jeep and a tractor-trailor, killed three members of the Mount Olive women’s lacrosse team — Madison Mergi, Ann Wray, and Chaney Partrich. The crash also killed baseball player Jett Swetland, and injured three more members of the women’s lacrosse team.

Mount Olive was on the cusp of possibly an historic season for its women’s lacrosse program. The team was 7-0 on the season until the team played its final game of the season March 9th, a 19-4 win over Edinboro. Three days after that game came the tragedy.

By the end of the season, the Trojans were ranked 19th in NCAA Division II. The ranking, in and of itself, would not have gotten the Mount into the NCAA Tournament, but it is a more-than-creditable showing for a program in only its eighth season of play.

But the team’s excellence of form does make you wonder what might have been if there wasn’t a cancellation of the entire season.

 

March 24, 2020 — A closing domino

Yesterday afternoon, Virginia governor Ralph Northam ordered extended the closure of all of the state’s public schools from now until the end of the scheduled school year.

It’s a move which I believe spells the end of scholastic sports in the United States until at least late summer. The Virginia High School League is a very large and influential part of the U.S. scholastic landscape, and I think a number of other state governing bodies will follow suit, especially given the fact that the Commonewealth’s governor is a medical doctor.

This has to be a tough decision, especially given the fact that the nation’s winningest girls’ lacrosse coach is within your borders. But for Kathy Jenkins’ quarter-century in the sport, she’s never had to coach through a situation like this.

March 17, 2020 — In the absence of a Tewaaraton …

The last few days, U.S. Lacrosse has been stuck for stories since there hasn’t been a women’s lacrosse game since the Yale-Fresno State game last week.

Today, U.S. Lacrosse magazine released a story (one which is a bit dated since it refers to a national championship aspiration for a 2020 tournament which is not happening) about Emily Hawryschuk, the senior attacking midfielder for Syracuse.

Hawryschuk, I think, is the best single player in Division I. She was seen as more of a classic attack wing, but has added the responsibility of taking the team’s draws in 2020. This came after the best-laid plan of using a DIRO (draw in-run off) specialist blew up when the specialist developed a knee injury in preseason.

A year later, Hawryschuk has, through use of a specialized draw stick, developed into a classic center. She became one of three or four options on the draw for the Orange, but she also led the team through eight games with 39 goals.

She gets my vote for the Tewaaraton Trophy, emblematic of the nation’s best college lacrosse player. It’s regrettable we’re not going to see how good this group of players can become. But there is always the possibility she may take advantage of the recently-granted fifth year of NCAA eligibility.

Let’s see what happens.

March 16, 2020 — An existential crossroads?

As of this morning, 32 states and the District of Columbia have announced plans to close public schools for an extended period of time because of fears of the coronavirus.

These closures are sure to put a crimp in the plans of more than just athletic teams at these schools. They will affect families who suddenly will have children at home, some of whom will be turning to distance learning for their studies and homework.

I do not envy the state governing bodies of sport who are going to have to clean up after this. How, for example, are teams going to finish off their state playoffs in winter sports, much less handle fixture congestion in spring sports?

It must be emphasized that, although a good swath of the country had started spring sports already, that the regular season in many states is still a good three weeks away from starting.

I have a feeling that, especially in lacrosse, you’re going to see a chaotic June with more than just Maine, Minnesota, and Massachusetts finishing around the 15th of the month. I think a number will follow suit.

March 15, 2020 — Will we call the NCAA “sensible” in five years?

Friday afternoon, the NCAA did the sensible and right thing, for once. That is, it gave a blanket “do over” for its student-athletes who found their seasons truncated over fears about the COVID-19 contagion overspreading the globe.

Every winter and spring athlete, even those who are first-year students, have been given a fifth year of eligibility. This means that, in many NCAA athletic teams across the land, there will be five classes’ worth of eligible student-athletes on a roster, not four.

This will definitely affect different teams from sport to sport. Basketball, hockey, and baseball players will still leave college for the pros in about the same ratios.

Lacrosse, even with pro leagues for post-graduate athletes, is not likely to have a lot of players willing to give up a second chance at a senior year which could mean a title run. Which is why, especially when it comes to North Carolina’s women, the decision is likely to spur a dominant patch of play that could last for some years.

UNC is the current No. 1 team in the country, with outstanding players such as Jamie Ortega, Marisa DiVietro, Ally Mastroianni, and Caroline Wakefield, plus young talent such as Julia Dorsey and Elizabeth Hillman. But head coach Jenny Levy has an avalanche of talent coming in this fall, which includes Shannon Smith, Reilly Casey, Alyssa Long, Alexa Gentile … and some attacking midfielder from Florida named Caitlyn Wurzburger.

I project that UNC is going to give coaches absolute nightmares because of the NCAA’s decision. What kind of team is going to give them a fight?