High school boys lacrosse coming soon | SummitDaily.com

High school boys lacrosse coming soon

Summit Daily/Brad OdekirkBreckenridge Lacrosse Club head coach Jeff Echols, right, and assistant coach Michael O'Neill.

SUMMIT COUNTY – One of the fastest growing sports in the nation, lacrosse soon will soon be available to high school boys in Summit.Local lacrosse fanatics Jeff Echols and Michael O’Neill, who formed the Breckenridge Lacrosse Club middle school team this year, are holding an organizational meeting on Wednesday to officially detail their plans to expand the boys program to the high school level next spring.The program will continue to operate as a club – and will not be under the wing of Summit High School – but Echols sees only the brightest future for the high school team-to-be.”This community embraced this game,” said Echols, the head coach, who led the middle school boys team to a 5-3-1 record this spring despite the team’s virtual lack of any experience whatsoever. “After the success we had (with the middle school team), I knew right away that I was going to start a high school team.”Echols said the team will be built around a large group of talented freshmen, who anchored the middle school squad last spring as eighth-graders. “I have about eight or nine solid players who are going to be freshmen this year,” he said, noting that the middle school program will continue to serve as an introduction to the game for the future high school players.

Kraig Hamady, an assistant last season with the middle school team, will take over as head coach while O’Neill and Echols focus their efforts on turning the high school squad into a competitive force.As it has been since its inception, the club will be run through the town of Breckenridge’s recreation department for administration purposes. Breck rec coordinator Diane McBride said the rec department will take care of things like paying the team’s tournament fees and collecting registration fees (which will cover each player’s U.S. Lacrosse membership this year, a critical facet for insurance purposes).The town will also provide the high school team field and gym space, working with Summit Middle School to get the players optimal amount of early season practice opportunities.This will be even more important because the high school isn’t planning on offering its support anytime soon.Summit High athletic director Gretchen Nies said Friday that because of its current sports offerings, the high school is not in a position to chip in to the lacrosse movement – not with field space, finances or in any other fashion.

“Right now we have more programs in existence than what our student population can support, while maintaining strong programs,” she said, noting nonetheless that the sport is sanctioned by the Colorado High School Athletics and Activities Association. “I think our community needs to make a decision on what sports they want to support.”Echols thinks Summit’s youth – and their parents – already have spoken in that respect, with their enthusiastic welcoming of lacrosse last spring. “This county is ready for lacrosse,” he said.Still, Echols understands that club life is the team’s likely destiny, conceding, “It may never be a varsity sport.”Not that that prospect worries him. Lacrosse provides a perfect spring complement for hockey players, of which Summit has plenty, and can thrive in part because of that, he said.

The team will play its games almost entirely against fellow mountain programs to begin with; Glenwood Springs, Steamboat, Eagle County, Grand Junction and Aspen/Carbondale all have seen recent youth lacrosse explosions in their town.(Many, Breckenridge included, have girls programs too. Sally Morris coached a Breck girls middle school team last spring.)Wednesday’s boys meeting starts at 7 p.m. at the Breckenridge Rec Center.Devon O’Neil can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 231 or at doneil@summitdaily.com.

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