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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Lacrosse backers focus on one goal

High school team proposal in hands of school board, Mayor Dickinson

As published in the Record Journal, Saturday January 28, 2012

By Stephanie O’Connell
Record-Journal staff

WALLINGFORD — The lacrosse community is thrilled that this year’s school budget includes money to add junior varsity lacrosse teams at both Sheehan and Lyman Hall high schools.

School Superintendent Salvatore Menzo’s proposed budget would set aside $81,058 in the first year for two teams and $66,932 in the second year. The budget is still being discussed by the Board of Education and will be passed along to Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. for final approval.

“Right now it’s not a done deal, the mayor still has the final say but being included in the initial budget is a big step for us,” said Tim Taylor, the Wallingford Youth Boys Lacrosse coordinator. “Right now we have about 200 kids between boys and girls that are playing in the youth leagues. It is the right time to be adding the teams.”

At a public budget forum in November, Menzo said that he was approached about adding the sport in his first year as superintendent, but was concerned because there wasn’t a club program for girls on both sides of town. There was a high school-age girls club only on the Sheehan side. This past spring was the first year that the youth league fielded teams for both sexes on both sides of town. The town’s youth program began about six years ago with 20 boys and 20 girls. The program has grown to 55 boys and more than 60 girls in grades 9 through 12.

Taylor has three children who have been playing lacrosse for years. They play in the youth program that travels to play teams in Madison, North Haven, Cheshire, Guilford and Clinton.

Sheehan and Lyman Hall are the last two schools in the Southern Connecticut Conference without lacrosse teams. The school plays in the Housatonic division with Amity, Shelton and Cheshire.

“In our conference we are the only schools who do not provide lacrosse so I think that it’s time we consider it and add it to the budget and to the schools,” said Roxane McKay, chairwoman of the Board of Education. “We are talking about a lot of kids who are interested and when you look at those numbers you can tell it is an up-and-coming sport.”

McKay has been in contact with Taylor, Wallingford Lacrosse President Michelle Milslagle, coaches and players for over a year. They have had open conversations about the pros and cons of adding the sport.

“I have been very upfront with the lacrosse folks as they have with me,” said McKay. “They know that even though we put it in the budget today it doesn’t mean it’s a done deal. We have a very long way to go.”

McKay has been impressed with the support shown by Wallingford Lacrosse parents, coaches and players at meetings. She said that she understood their level of dedication after a group of teenage players showed up at an 8 a.m. meeting on a snowy Saturday morning.

“The board has been on our side since we first brought this up years ago, so we find it necessary to show up at meetings when it is going to be discussed to show our dedication,” Milslagle said.

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