Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Making the Most of the First Year; Fleming Island High's Lacrosse Team Showed Marked Improvement in Its Inaugural Season

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Making the Most of the First Year; Fleming Island High's Lacrosse Team Showed Marked Improvement in Its Inaugural Season

Article excerpt

Byline: BILL JOHNSON

The Fleming Island High boys lacrosse club need only look to the first and last games of its inaugural season to find reason for optimism.

While starting off with a loss to Episcopal's junior varsity at the beginning of the season, the team polished off a solid year with an 11-3 win over the very same Episcopal team and finished with a 4-5 match record.

The team will get at least one more year to grow as club. Fleming Island administrators said lacrosse will not become a sanctioned sport at Fleming Island this upcoming season.

At the end of last season, Coach Mike Buzzell expected another year in the club format.

"My personal feeling is that it might need another year," he said. "But we're moving in the right direction."

Many things go into creating a sanctioned high school program, including Title IX concerns about gender equality in high school athletic programs. That's part of the reason why Buzzell asked volunteer Wendy Owens to coach a girls team.

The girls played an abbreviated schedule this year, but the team grew from 15 to 28 players from the end of February to the end of April. The boys team had 42 players.

Either as a club or school team, the kids just seem happy to have the option of another sport to participate in, even if they must play on a makeshift field on the front lawn of the high school.

"I've never had so much fun in sports before," freshman Kurt Musser said during an end-of-the-season intrasquad scrimmage.

Junior Daniel Valdelamar said he made a few new friends by joining the team.

"I heard it was fun so I thought I'd try it out," he said. "I played soccer when I was younger. This takes a lot more teamwork."

Since lacrosse is a club sport, the team was open to kids from outside the school. Two Ridgeview High students played in the green and gold uniforms that Buzzell obtained from a manufacturer who had no other use for them.

"They just happened to be the school colors," he said. They have the name "Hornets" on them, but for kids who just want to get out and play as a team, that was no problem, he said.

While some of the equipment was donated, "The coach bought a lot of stuff himself," said Brian Goss, one of several seniors who pushed to get the club going. …

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