The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

March 6, 2014

GRA students looking forward to spring with lacrosse sticks ready

For the Star Beacon

AUSTINBURG TOWNSHIP — America’s fastest growing collegiate and high school sport is lacrosse. This sport that is spreading like wild fire originated right across the lake in, you guessed it, Canada. Despite the common notion that Canada’s national sport is hockey, it’s actually Lacrosse. It was only a matter of time before it spread across Lake Erie and right into Grand River Academy’s athletic facilities.

Lacrosse “La Crosse” translates to “the stick” in French. Records of the first lacrosse games occurred as early as 1100 A.D. between the tribes of the indigenous North Americans, making lacrosse the first North American sport ever created. Before French missionaries landed in North America in the 1600s the sport had no formal name, so upon observing the game being played they saw the sticks used to play and named the event accordingly “La Crosse.”

Fast forward 375 years and the game is being played at Grand River Academy with titanium alloy sticks, shoulder pads, helmets and gloves. Interestingly enough hockey pads and lacrosse pads are almost identical. Winter in Canada is devoted to hockey however; once the ice melted lacrosse was the favored sport. The same is true for Grand River; once the ice melts, the students put away their basketballs and wrestling shoes and grab their lacrosse sticks.

The flow, shape, and rules of both are equally similar; the only difference is the ice. Lacrosse is a full contact sport played with 10 players on the field for each team, usually consisting of three attackmen “attack,” three midfielders “midies,” three defensemen “defense” and one goalie. The main focus of the game is to throw a small rubber ball using the sticks into the opposite team’s goal. However in lacrosse the nets are not rectangular like most sports, they are triangular, making the task much more difficult. Accordingly the team with the most goals at the end of the game is the winner.

The 2014 Grand River Academy Lacrosse Team promises to do a lot of just that, winning, especially coming off of a poor 2013 season winning only one game. With a new coaching staff and new playbook head varsity lacrosse coach Michael O’Keefe is optimistic.

“Great things can happen this year, with outstanding senior leadership, and an experienced squad, the team should perform at a very high level, and I’m expecting a successful 2014 season,” O’Keefe said.

This season the backbone of the team being formed by post graduate and captain Benjamin Bershad of Massachusetts; post graduate Patrick Weferling of Maine; seniors Alex Shober, Ben Triulzi and Carl Behling of Pennsylvania; seniors Elija Hunt and Collin Rinaldi of Ohio; senior Eric Leveaux of California; senior Johnny Knapp of Virginia; and senior Isaac Seger-Brown from Michigan. Most of these students have played for multiple years.

“Grand River Academy is ready for a great season; our team being mostly experienced upperclassman, having above a 500 season is very likely,” Bershad said.

With practices starting in a few days, the only thing left to do, is hit the field.