WOODBURY – The Nonnewaug Lacrosse Club asked the Region 14 Board of Education at its meeting on Monday to give it a chance to compete next season as a boys varsity sport.
Marc Duncan, the father of a Nonnewaug player, said the club is not looking for financing, but wants the board to give the program a chance to compete as a co-op program and as a member of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference. Currently, the 10-year-old club has 17 players from Region 14, 6 students from Oxford, one from Woodland High School, and one from Sacred Heart of Waterbury.
Duncan proposed that the board conduct a survey of interest as it did in 2015, before it let the school’s swim team become a varsity program.
Michael Paniccia, Nonnewaug’s head coach, who played in college after playing for Nonnewaug, said the board needs to think of lacrosse as a platform for college so kids can chase their dreams.
“No disrespect, but we give baseball and soccer a lot of chances,” Paniccia said. “Not every kid in this town plays baseball or soccer. There are hundreds of kids that have nothing to do in the springtime.”
Paniccia told the board that the lack of varsity status bugs him because he’s been through this both as a player and a coach. He said the club needs the board’s support to become a varsity sport.
He also understands the school’s perspective that adding lacrosse could cut unto the other spring sports Nonnewaug offers.
“Think about giving these kids a chance instead of the negativity of taking away from other things,” Paniccia said. “It’s all positive. We all just have to come together and work.”
Tom Duncan, a Nonnewaug junior and a defenseman on the lacrosse club, said that while some members have gone on to play at the collegiate level, others have quit because they can’t earn a varsity letter in the sport.
“This will give kids who don’t play a sport a chance to try something new,” said Duncan, who has been playing with Nonnewaug since he was in eighth grade.
Heidi Miller, whose son, Hunter, is a junior on the team, said these kids need the opportunity to play and show their pride for their school.
Miller said lacrosse has provided the most-positive experience for Hunter, who started playing lacrosse this season, his friends, and his family.
“The most positive thing that I’ve seen out of this is his passion for the sport,” Miller said. “As those of you who are parents well know, that feeling of a child having a passion for something is just so great.”
Since the comments made by the lacrosse supporters were not part of a set agenda item, but from the floor, Board of Education Chairman Janet Morgan said she and the board could not take immediate action. However, Morgan did tell the supporters that she would set up a meeting between them, the board, Nonnewaug principal Julie Luby and athletic director Declan Curtin to discuss the club’s future.
Nonnewaug plays its home games at Mitchell Elementary School on a field that parents have said is in poor condition. Regardless of its status, Nonnewaug may be able to play its games on the new artificial turf field, which is scheduled to be ready for play this fall and will include markings for lacrosse.