Girls lacrosse arrives: Teaching is priority for new varsity sport

Friday March 30, 2012 | WILLIAMSTOWN — The first day of varsity girls lacrosse in Berkshire County was all about teaching.

As reported by Christopher James, from The Berkshire Eagle
Read the full article here: Girls lacrosse arrives: Teaching is priority for new varsity sport

Moments before visiting Belchertown and Mount Greylock took to the field at the Williamstown school, Mounties coach Lindsey von Holtz was explaining the rules to her timekeeper. When the game got underway, the two referees spent plenty of time telling players where to go on restarts. Parent and youth coach Jeff Albert spent plenty of time on the sideline, fielding questions from fellow parents about what was happening in front of them.

“There’s a lot of rules to learn as far as a parent sitting on the sideline,” Albert said. “You’ll ask questions, but by the end of the season, you’ll be telling the people the answers. It’s not too difficult.”

After years of hoping and months of anticipation, lacrosse’s advocates were happy to play teacher during Greylock’s 16-7 loss. Mounties boys coach Jeff Stripp proudly watched his daughter’s varsity debut just as he wrapped up the boys practice on an adjacent field.

“This season, it’s really only hit me today,” Stripp said. “My daughter’s playing here and my son’s over here. It’s amazing. I kind of pinch myself when I go home. I feel very fortunate that that’s the case. I’m excited.”

Stripp, through the Berkshire County Lacrosse Association, has helped lead the fight to bring lacrosse from a club sport to the varsity level in the county. While St. Joseph’s has long had a boys team, Thursday was the first time a varsity girls game had been contested in recent memory, and this spring will see the debut of high school leagues for both genders.

The varsity label means there are lots of newcomers to the sport. Von Holtz, who is also Greylock’s athletic director, tried to run through the timing rules before the game after her timekeeper had also been quizzed by the pair of game officials. She paused for a moment when the discussion got to red cards, which lead to an ejection like in soccer.

“If we get to the red point in the first game,” von Holtz said, “we’re done.”

While there were no fouls so flagrant to merit a card, there were plenty of lessons on the field. Belchertown coach Ashley Ziemba said she was impressed with Greylock on the first day out. The game was far from a blowout, with the Orioles leading by just three at halftime.

“I thought it was a good game,” Ziemba said. “I got scared for a little while.”

Von Holtz said it was nice to get a feel for what her team needs to work on. Greylock had just had its first real scrimmage on Wednesday.

“I saw some great things,” von Holtz said. “The girls, I think, started to calm down after a while and start to play and start to see the stuff that we were practicing. I had fun. It’s a little cold, but I had fun.”

Temperatures did dip into the 30s during the game but that didn’t stop a small crowd, including Albert and Stripp, from enjoying the game. Youth players ran through drills on the nearby field that had hosted the Mountie boys earlier in the afternoon. The school seemed more like the center of the lacrosse universe.

“I’m excited that there’s an opportunity for kids at Greylock and other schools in the county to play,” Stripp said. “I love the sport. I’m really passionate about it. I think sharing that love is really part of the philosophy.”

To reach Christopher James:
cjames@berkshireeagle.com,
(413) 496-6252.
On Twitter: @BECJ2k.

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