Over the short history of Montgomery County lacrosse, very few teams have emerged as regional powerhouses. Generally, in any contest, MCPS boys' and girls' lacrosse teams will fall far short of their private-school counterparts, mainly because of one fatal flaw: not having a junior varsity program.
MCPS is hesitant to grant junior varsity programs because of the assumption that there is not enough interest to produce a need for them. But the truth is that a number of programs, like those at Damascus and Wootton high schools, have drawn upwards of 60 to 70 potential players to try-outs, which is more than enough to accommodate a JV team. Without a JV team, talent is wasted, because the coach must keep young, immature players on varsity which detracts from the attention he or she can give to the older, more experienced players who will make more of an immediate impact.
When two or three coaches have to spend a good portion of practice teaching 15 to 20 newcomers how to play the game to ensure the program has some potential in future years, it makes it hard to focus on the things that a varsity coach should focus on. The less experienced players bring down the starters of the team because the varsity coaches are forced to play the role of a JV coach and worry about the future, rather than winning games that season.
The simple solution to this is a separate, equally well-organized JV team where less-experienced players can learn the game and gain experience at their own level instead of watching more advanced players from the bench all season.
The status quo can be very frustrating to a talented player who aspires to play college lacrosse. The obvious difference in the levels of play between public and private school teams means colleges recruit more frequently from private schools. In most cases, playing college lacrosse coming from an MCPS lacrosse program is a long shot, and playing quality college lacrosse is an even bigger rarity.
MCPS lacrosse is consistently being pushed further away from the pack, and not having a JV program should bear the brunt of the blame. Kids who grow up in the private school athletics system go through middle school, freshmen and JV teams before they hit varsity. They gain invaluable experience that sets them way out of reach of the average public school athlete, who picks up a stick freshman year and is forced to wait his or her turn on a cramped varsity squad. When you compare these public school programs to the prestigious programs of D.C. and Baltimore area private schools that contend in two of the most competitive conferences in the country, it is very much like comparing a Kia Rio to a Mercedes E-class.
What lacrosse basically comes down to is experience. Athletic ability by itself only goes so far in this game. With private schools, experience is acquired from developing on the JV team, and athletic ability can be gained from the resources, that an affluent prep school can afford.
With each year that schools like Blair limp along without a JV program, the prep schools get farther out of reach. The best possible thing for the future of Blair lacrosse would be for MCPS to realize that if it wants its teams to compete and generate more money, it must avoid nipping at the problem and knock it out with one blow.
Lincoln Fischer. Senior sports writer Lincoln Fischer was born in Manhattan, New York on May 1st 1985. He presently lives in Takoma Park with his mother, father and sister. His father, Craig, is an editor for Pace Publications, which produces a number of newsletters related to criminal … More »