Port Jeff Track Team Protests Sharing of Field Time

If fielded, a new JV lacrosse team will share stadium time with the track team.

Port Jefferson School District’s track coach spoke in front of the school board on Tuesday night with his team in tow to voice his displeasure at a potential loss of practice time to .

According to Coach Rod Cawley, the track team will lose up to 20 percent of its field time in a deal that he says will disrupt practice for his students. Pointing out the and the 90 year history of the program, Cawley said that the practice time is vital to keeping up that same level of performance.

While their coach spoke, the kids surrounded the sitting board members and passed a ball back and forth to help make the point that even while the lacrosse team waited for their turn on the field, something as seemingly innocuous as playing catch could be extremely distracting.

Debra Ferry, the school’s athletic director, said that if fielded, the junior varsity boys lacrosse team would play seven or eight games on the Port Jefferson stadium field starting at 4:30 p.m. still allowing a short track practice to take place prior to the game. She has also been in contact with other schools whose lacrosse and track teams have successfully shared field time.

“Yes, sharing must occur and in our case changes must occur,” she said.

It’s not clear if the lacrosse team will even get to play next year, according to Ferry, because they still needs outside funding to start a program. In its over a year ago, the school board stipulated that additonal money above and beyond what was budgeted must be donated from alternate sources.

Update: In , Superintendent Kenneth Bossert stated that in the new budget there are no plans to fund a JV lacrosse team.

The district is talking to other organizations about getting that funding.

Still, if the team is created, then the two sports will have to work together to share field time.

“I can appreciate the passion that the track teams and coaches have for our track program,” she said. “However, it is my responsibility, as the Athletic Director, to try to provide as much athletic opportunities to our children as possible.”

Cawley said he’s not opposed to starting up a lacrosse program, he just doesn’t want to have it impose on his team’s track time.

“Don’t get rid of it,” he said. “Just don’t force it on us.”

Meaghan Stephenson April 20, 2012 at 12:51 AM
Why are you all so against starting this lacrosse program? Change makes people uncomfortable but it usually brings great rewards. I know that the great people who started up your youth program have been met with nothing but negativity and criticism from many of the people in your village. These nay sayers should come and see how happy those boys and girls are playing on the lacrosse fields on Sundays. Their time would be much better spent supporting the kids rather than trashing their program on the endless blogs that have been set up. All of your surrounding districts have school teams and the children come in masses to participate. Track and lacrosse can share the track and field by simply putting netting around the perimeter of the field. I am sure that if the board of education and the financial administrators for the district dug deep they could find a little bit of money that could be reallocated to use towards JV lacrosse. Every little bit will help offset the amount needed to be donated privately. Starting up this program will give the children the opportunity to participate in a great sport that all of their friends from other communities are so passionate about. Long Island is known as the "lacrosse meca" . Why are the students in Port Jeffeson being cheated out of learning and playing this great sport?
j. leigh April 20, 2012 at 06:08 PM
I don't believe that people are necessarily against the creation of the lacrosse team, but rather the timing. It would be fiscally irresponsible for the district to back this sport at this time, while taking away from sports that have had a record of success, such as track and cross country. Like Mr. Cawley stated, we're not asking for the team to be taken away, but rather not forced upon the district that's funding is falling short in the shadow of LIPA and tax hikes.
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