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.”