County's varsity lacrosse teams experience numbers growth


WILLIAMSTOWN -- Lacrosse is back for year two in Berkshire County high schools, and players are arriving in droves.

"We went from 19 people to 40 people," said Mount Greylock girls coach Lindsey von Holtz. "The excitement and how the team did last year and how much fun the girls had brought in 20 more obviously."

That growth isn't just limited to Williamstown. The rival Hoosac Valley girls also have enough for a junior varsity squad, as do the St. Joseph boys. Monument Mountain has a varsity boys program for the first time with numbers in the low 20s.

In a season during which four teams in other sports folded, it appears lacrosse is here to stay.

"This is great to go out there with 28, 29 kids," said St. Joseph coach Ben Kline. "It's a good sign for the future of the program, of the school."

Varsity lacrosse made its debut in Berkshire County last year following a long campaign to add it. Six boys teams joined an established program at St. Joseph with five girls teams competing as well. Three boys teams and two girls teams qualified for the Western Massachusetts tournament.

More and more junior varsity teams help the sport's viability. Pittsfield boys coach Scott Aitken -- who had 37 try out after graduating a senior class of nearly 20 -- said JV games provide valuable teaching time.

After the Generals made it to the Western Mass. Division II tournament last year, the chance to make a run at a sectional crown also has students buzzing.

"We've got some kids that came up from the CYC," Aitken said. "The kids talk Western Mass. There's that extra goal there."

Monument Mountain sat out the first year of varsity lacrosse in the county, finally approving a boys team in the offseason. Spartans athletic director Paul Gibbons said there's excitement and curiosity in Great Barrington about a sport many are unfamiliar with. He had to give his maintenance staff a guide to line the field correctly.

"I think many people in the school don't understand what it is, so it will be kind of different," Gibbons said. "One of the secretaries said she's looking forward to seeing a lacrosse game. ...

"Friends of some of these kids will show up. Track kids will be practicing, so they'll have a chance to see what's going on."

Back at Greylock, von Holtz said her players are disappointed about postponed games in the first week. Still shivering from a windy practice, Lucy Barrett said she came out for the team this year because she missed not playing a year ago. She's had lots of company.

"It's great seeing all the girls in the program," Barrett said. "In basketball, we definitely don't have as many girls. Coming to another sport and seeing how many girls just want to be involved in this sport is great."


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