With student participation in sports on the decline since the pandemic, Boca Ciega High School took a risk with the inclusion of a sport not often seen in the south – lacrosse.
“There was a lot of trepidation about kids being involved in sports; numbers were down for all sports, not just here, but in Pinellas County altogether,” said Bob Medici, athletic coordinator and boys lacrosse coach at BCHS.
In the winter of 2020, faculty at the high school, alongside BCHS principal Michael Vigue, established a dialogue regarding lacrosse.
Vigue, originally from the Northern U.S. where lacrosse is more common, pushed for the team.
An interest survey revealed budding enthusiasm for the sport. The result? Two teams, boys and girls, started in March.
“What our numbers told us is that we would be very close to guidelines set by Pinellas County Schools, but we should have it.” Medici said. “At that point, we committed and here we are.”
On March 11, both the girls and boys teams competed against Osceola High School. Of course, with a majority of the BCHS players new to the sport, both teams lost. But their enthusiasm is undiminished.
On the Team
BCHS volleyball coach Lauren Lovino has been coaching volleyball at the school for 13 years.
She’s been teaching lacrosse for a few months.
“I had to read the rulebook myself,” Lovino said. “The cool thing is a lot of these girls have never played a sport, and they’re so excited, even when they lose.”
On the practice field, a sparse team of girls wave their lacrosse gear around the grassy area behind the school.
Learning a whole new sport isn’t easy, but the players are determined. The lacrosse team is a constant blooper reel of laughing, misses and explosions of victory when a ball actually does what it’s intended to.
“They’re new, especially compared to other schools,” Assistant Coach Alicia Prevost said. “The Clearwater game was downright nasty; the referee gave our girls the option to forfeit, but they stuck it out, and even ended up scoring a point.”
The goal is to improve, and the two teams will play six schools in the county: Clearwater, Palm Harbor, East Lake, St. Pete, Northeast and Osceola.
“I’ve had to learn patience with this team,” Lovino said. “We’re losing, and I’m not used to it, but the girls are improving with each game, and they are having so much fun doing it.”