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Lacrosse now a part of GSHS

Joelle Milholm
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” The spring sports schedule will be a little busier at Glenwood Springs High School from now on as the Roaring Fork Re-1 District School Board unanimously passed a motion to approve adding lacrosse as a Colorado High School Activities Association sanctioned sport at the school.

Starting in 2009, the boys and girls teams currently known as the Glenwood Springs Lacrosse Club will be playing as Demons. The addition of the sport was debated at the school board meeting on Wednesday night and then approved by all four members in attendance (Bill Lamont, Bob Johnson, Debbie Stone Bruell and Michael Blair) under the following motion: “The board approves the addition of lacrosse at GSHS based on student participation with all costs of the program for the next two years being the responsibility of the students and parents and subject to district athletic and CHSAA policies.”

The Glenwood Springs Lacrosse boys club team started in 2004 and has been playing as a club team in the Valley ever since. The squad’s popularity has increased each year ” it is also the fastest growing prep sport in the state ” and had a consistent showing of 25 players for practices and games this year. The girls team just started this year and fielded a team about half the size of the boys.



Both squads have always been fully self-funded and agreed to continue that for the next two years.

“They’ve been funding it. The parents have been funding it. It basically continues status quo as it is for two years,” said Shannon Pelland, Roaring Fork School District Re-1 assistant superintendent of business and finance. “The parents will continue to do everything they have always done, it is just that they will be under CHSAA regulations and all of that.”



If during that time, the teams’ transition to the high school goes smoothly, they will then be funded by the school starting in the 2011 season.

The push to get the sport at GSHS got a lot more serious this year, as all of the other teams in the area (like in Steamboat Springs, Grand Junction, Battle Mountain, Eagle Valley and Aspen) have either left or are leaving their club status to join CHSAA.

“We have been thinking about this for a few years and it was just a matter of what year it was going to happen. This is the best year for it because everyone else has done it or is doing it,” said the boys head coach, Greg Schroeder. “I had a good feeling it was going to happen. I had heard the principal (Paul Freeman) was very supportive of it.”

Since CHSAA rules state that its sanctioned squads cannot play club teams, both the Glenwood boys and girls teams would not have very many teams in the area to play.

The remaining club programs on the Western Slope are in Basalt, which the district said they would approve if it were interested in joining Basalt High School, Telluride, Montrose and Durango.

“It was a do-or-die situation for us. If we wouldn’t have joined Glenwood, the program would have died,” said Dru Avery, a junior and captain on the 2008 boys team. “It was pretty exciting.”

When the Glenwood Springs Lacrosse Club began to notice teams joining their high schools and CHSAA, immediate action was taken. The club organized a meeting in March and then the parents and players got the ball rolling to start the process of applying to become a GSHS sport.

“It was a big effort by the parents and they formed a committee, did the research, found out who to talk to and got the paperwork together,” Schroeder said. “They were the driving force behind it all.”

The parents talked to other parents and coaches at Eagle Valley and Aspen High Schools, getting advice on what steps to take. By the end of the school year, the Glenwood Springs Lacrosse Club had completed an 11-page application packet stating why it should join the high school, covering financial aspects, impacts on other sports, coaches information, requirements to play, travel plans and more, and submitted it to the district.

Netti Avery, Dru’s mother and a key member on the committee, said she was unsure when the school board would get to it with summer approaching, but was pleased to see it on Wednesday night’s agenda. She was even more pleased to see it approved.

“This is fabulous,” she said. “We are so excited. It is crazy.”

The Glenwood Springs Lacrosse Club made many transitions this year, hoping they would become Demons next year. They changed their colors from black and white to red and white. They got matching white helmets and even tried to save extra money as to have a cushion in the next two years.

“We were being mindful of all of our decisions in case we did go CHSAA,” Netti Avery said.

The three major concerns with the programs’ addition are where the team will play, travel issues and deciding what financial responsibilities the team will still have in 2011.

Both the girls and boys lacrosse teams currently practice at Vogelaar Park, on a small chunk of grass smaller than a regulation field. It is too small for games, but works for practices. The girls team didn’t have any home games this year, while the boys did play some at the Gates Soccer Complex at Colorado Mountain College’s Spring Valley Campus.

“The people at Gates have been fully supportive of us and give us a great rate,” Netti Avery said. “They have even lined the fields for us. We would love to continue working with them in the future.”

The girls soccer team currently uses Glenwood’s field (Stubler Memorial Field) during the spring, but the lacrosse teams could join them. Gates and Vogelaar could continue to be the home fields for lacrosse. It is an issue GSHS athletic director Craig Denney and the teams will have to work out. Before the decision was announced, Denney was in support of adding lacrosse.

“As an AD, I would like to see lacrosse added,” he said. “It is more work for me, but that’s my job, so that’s OK.”

The lacrosse teams will also have to arrange their transportation differently. They currently drive to games in players’ or parents’ or coaches’ vehicles, but will have to start using school buses like other Demon teams in the future. The district is currently short on bus drivers, so the lacrosse team is trying to assure that won’t be a problem.

“The only thing we are not used to is traveling by bus. So we are asking some parents to get their CDLs (Commercial Driver’s License) and get our own drivers,” said Netti Avery.

With more equipment being required in lacrosse, such as pads and sticks, the players will still be responsible for getting their own personal equipment even after the two-year self-funding period ends. Other financial terms will be finalized in the future.

Even though the participation numbers have been increasing steadily for the Glenwood Springs Lacrosse Club, Schroeder believes having the team as part of the high school will take it up another notch.

“It is going to help with the growth of the sport in the valley,” he said.

Michele Ziccardi, the girls coach, knows it will help her new team. At some games this year, the girls only had 11 people and had to borrow a player from other teams.

Ziccardi, whose team this year was made up of all freshmen and sophomores, believes more incoming freshmen will pick up the sport. As an English teacher at Glenwood Springs, she can try to find them.

“I think it will help with recruiting,” she said of being a teacher. “I found some of these girls in speech class. I said here’s a stick, let’s go.”

Dru Avery, who will be one of a handful to be part of the first senior class to play lacrosse at Glenwood, thinks that being with the school will not only boost numbers but community interest as well.

“It will be different, but I am excited. We are all excited,” he said. “It will be cool to be with CHSAA because you get more support from the community because CHSAA is a little more reputable.”


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