It was that old Rough Rider of days gone by, former U.S.
President Theodore Roosevelt, who was fond of quoting an old West African
proverb: "Speak softly, and carry a big stick; you will go far" when
it came to describing his foreign policy style, one that included what he
called "the exercise of intelligent forethought and decisive action
sufficiently far in advance of any likely crisis."
And that, in essence, is what Port Chester is doing before
venturing into foreign sports territory, a varsity lacrosse program to be
P.C. Athletic Director Rob Barrett and other local sports movers
and shakers are currently speaking softly while in the planning stage about
whether the school should carry a big stick, a lacrosse stick to be precise,
actually lots of them to be imprecise, because the exact number is difficult to
pin down at this stage.
Numbers up in air
It is difficult to come up with a number because a veritable forest
of those sticks are on their way to Port Chester right now as the result of
three grants, although the exact date when those sticks will arrive is still up
in the air, or maybe on a delivery truck, or somewhere in the post office for
all anybody really knows.
Wherever they are, they are due to arrive any day now. And when
they do, Port Chester will have the wherewithal to start becoming a big time
lacrosse club while learning the LAX ABC's on training wheels before the
program really ever gets spinning locally.
And if the club works, over time it could become a Port Chester
first, a P.C. varsity lacrosse team modeled after Yorktown High, a perennial
Westchester power and home of one of the most successful LAX programs in
Source of funding
Getting to that stage won't cost Port Chester a penny because
P.C. will be doing the club program launch on somebody else's dime, that startup
money coming from a Yorktown Huskers LAX alumni group and US Lacrosse, the
national governing body of the sport.
Those bucks will go into starting a lacrosse program as part of the
P.C. elementary and middle school physical education programs. The funding for
equipment is estimated at anywhere from $15,000 to $20,000. Nobody knows the
exact amount yet.
So what is happening locally lacrosse-wise and otherwise is
really quite elementary although it takes a bit of Sherlock Holmes'-style
sleuthing to put all the missing pieces together. But when all those pieces
finally come together, eureka, starting a full-fledged lacrosse program is an
idea that has finally come to Port Chester. Or at least is about to.
Making P.C. better
The Academy Award or its local equivalent for making the LAX
program happen in Port Chester goes to, the envelope please, but so there's no
"La-La Land" and "Moonlight" confusion over the best
For the complete back story, you should first see the video currently
making the rounds on YouTube for yourself (view the following: www.youtube.com/watch?v=gg5G5EGV4TE&sn).
The condensed version of that video plot is that a number of
Yorktown lacrosse alumni talk up the glories of the sport and its potential to
add to the diversity of Port Chester athletics. They talk up LAX virtues
against a backdrop of P.C. athletic trophies lining the hallway outside the
gym, that video cast lineup including Port Chester Middle School math teacher
Paul Santavicca, a former Huskers All-American LAX player who also played
ultra-competitive Division One lacrosse for Marist before moving on to coach
the sport at Pelham High School and then turning around the losing Port Chester
Rams football program last season after just one year on the job.
Pay it forward
As a way of paying forward what the sport has meant to them, and
as a tribute to the legendary father of Yorktown lacrosse, Charlie Murphy,
whose apple orchards became their first LAX playgrounds, that alum group set
aside around $1,000 from their annual fundraiser for the Yorktown youth and
high school programs. That $1G grant will go towards helping launch a beginning
LAX program. That donation went directly to US Lacrosse with the money
earmarked for the Port Chester School District as a result of yearlong
on-and-off conversations about starting an LAX program here among Santavicca,
Barrett (the AD) and P.C. Middle School Principal Pat Swift.
Those conversations and that grant, in turn, led to Barrett
contacting US Lacrosse about the LAX opportunities for P.C. And that really got
the ball rolling in terms of possible grants and a video that would get the
benefits of the LAX pitch swinging into the community via YouTube. US Lacrosse
wrote and produced the script. And Barrett wrote two successful grant
proposals. The first was for the so-called "Soft Sticks" program
whereby US Lacrosse would provide lacrosse sticks and balls for the P.C.
elementary schools as well as professional development for the P.C. physical
education program. The second was to start a club team at the Middle School
with the Yorktown alums and US Lacrosse providing equipment from head to toe
for 20 boys and 20 girls.
Cast of characters
"We are in the process of receiving that equipment right
now," Barrett said. "The video was the product of this whole
He said that the "many people" interested in launching
the LAX program included P.C. Middle School teachers Joe Capalbo, a former
Division One LAX player at Quinnipiac, and Alyssa Canonic, who played lacrosse
at Harrison and is a former coach at Middletown High where she helped develop
their girls’ LAX program. The Carver Center after school program is also
intrigued by the lacrosse potential.
While Barrett said no decision has yet been made about the coaches,
"the hope is get the club team off the ground here in a couple of weeks
starting with interest meetings. We expect to have practice four times per week
for 1 1/2 hours per day give or take for approximately eight weeks."
"After conferring with US Lacrosse,” Barrett continued, “the
plan is to have 6th and 7th graders start the club, go
club for this year and next year and start a modified team in three seasons
where we will compete with local middle schools. The hope is to move to JV and
then Varsity if the numbers increase and the interest grows."
Sounds like a plan
That certainly sounds like a plan whereby lacrosse could well be
here to stay in Port Chester.
Such a program would prove costly in the long run, admitted Port
Chester Board of Education President Jim Dreves. "But if the interest is
there, we certainly would be interested."
And so we shall see what we shall see. And for the record,
"Moonlight" won out over "La-La Land" for the Academy Award
for best picture and the P.C. powers-that-be behind the local push for LAX
certainly don't seem to be in la-la land when it comes to planning how to get
the program off the ground and seeing it through to a successful launch. However,
on a cautionary note, the first lacrosse summer training camp at the Port
Chester Middle School in the summer of 2015 drew around 200 participants from
all over Westchester, but only one from Rye Brook and none from P.C. despite
scholarships available for Port Chester residents. But then nobody ever
expected it to be easy to launch a LAX program hereabouts.