High school lacrosse has extended its reach further south in Berkshire County.
The Berkshire Hills Regional School District approved the addition of a varsity boys program at Monument Mountain Regional High School on Thursday night, to begin play this spring.
The Spartans’ addition of lacrosse gives Berkshire County an eight-team boys league. Monument joins the three Pittsfield high schools, Hoosac Valley, Lee, Mount Greylock and Wahconah in the Berkshire County League.
For the second time, the student-driven, booster-led group -- which included co-chairpersons Betsy Capeless and Dr. Jennifer Michaels, Berkshire District Att orney David Capeless, MMRHS Principal Marianne Young, Athletic Director Paul Gibbons and MMRHS junior Julian Michaels -- made its presentation to the BHRSD committee.
The students’ interest was enough to convince the committee to add the sport, according to Chairman Stephen Bannon.
"We try to, when there’s enough to make a team, to help them do what they want to do," Bannon said Friday night. "They seem very enthusiastic and committed, so why not give them a chance?"
A girls program could also be added if there is enough student interest, though Gibbons said it currently doesn’t appear that there will be enough girls to field a varsity squad for at least a year.
"There are enough kids who are ready to play boys lacrosse," Gibbons said. "I don’t think the numbers are there for girls yet."
The BHRSD guidelines don’t allow booster clubs to pay for coaches, equipment or uniforms, but in order to aid lacrosse, the committee waived those guidelines for a year. Bannon said the presentation showed start-up costs for the program at approximately $16,000.
Betsy Capeless said the parents and boosters began talking with the high school about a year ago, but noted that the students’ drive and the assistance of the Berkshire County Lacrosse Association made their pitch stronger.
Julian Michaels is Dr. Michaels’ son, while the Capelesses have two sons -- Charlie, a junior, and Sam, a freshman -- who are interested in playing.
"It really is a student initiative," Betsy Capeless said. "We have about 20 kids as a base team who want to play, and that’s without recruiting. Some have played before, and others are playing for the first time."
BCLA President and Wahconah boys lacrosse coach Paul Lange said the addition shows the growth of lacrosse in the Berkshires.
"It certainly vindicates all the efforts we’ve had over the past seven years, showing it’s a viable sport," he said. "It’s going to bring a lot of competition to the varsity league."
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