It started as just an idea, then became a movement and now it’s officially happening.
Cranston high schools will have boys’ lacrosse this spring.
On Monday, there was a hearing with the Rhode Island Interscholastic League’s Principal’s Committee on Athletics, and both East and West were given the go-ahead to join the fold when the season begins in a few months.
What began back in December has come full circle, as nearly $20,000 has been raised to get both programs off and running.
“We’re not quite there yet (with donations), but we’re well on the way,” Cranston athletic director Vin Varrecchione said. “We’ve got enough to get us going. We’re moving forward.”
With the fundraising effort spearheaded by volunteer parents Annette Cataldo and Mark Moretti, students from both schools have helped keep the pursuit of lacrosse teams alive for the past two months through various methods.
They’ve canned for donations at local Stop & Shops, and just last week held an event at the newly opened Ty Law’s Launch Trampoline Park in Warwick. That event was a big success, and along with a few generous donations, it was enough for the programs to get the green light.
Some of the significant contributions came from Mayor Fung, the Cranston Teachers Alliance, Alpha Physical Therapy, The Harrall Family, coach Bob Izzi of Cranston West Football and Nardolillo Funeral Home.
It’s all happened fast. The school committee approved the idea of bringing the teams to Cranston in December, meaning that there has been only about two months to raise the necessary funds.
But with some dedication, they got it done.
“I think we’ve made the most money with the kids going out and canning and participating in the fundraising events, like the launch park,” Varrecchione said.
Most of the loose ends are already tied up as well. Both teams will play their games at Cranston Stadium, just like the girls’ lacrosse teams from both schools already do.
Practice-wise, East will utilize the field across from Park View Middle School, while West will use the Hope Road Complex.
The teams will each compete in Division III, which featured 10 different programs last year – Smithfield, East Providence, Tiverton/Rogers, Burrillville/North Smithfield, Scituate, Narragansett, Toll Gate, Coventry, Warwick Vets and Westerly.
Burrillville/North Smithfield, Coventry and Westerly were all first year programs last season, with varying levels of success. Coventry finished 7-6 and made the playoffs, Burrillville/North Smithfield won four games and Westerly won one.
While it remains to be seen how East and West will fare when they jump right in to competition, numbers shouldn’t be a problem at either school.
“I’m really confident that we’re going to have some large numbers over at Cranston West,” Varrecchione said. “Just the number of kids that are asking and interested in participating, we’ve got a pretty good size list of kids already. Cranston East, we probably won’t have as big a program. Again, we felt that we have enough kids to warrant their own team. We’re confident we’ll get that number.”
The coaching jobs haven’t been posted online, but the search is still ongoing. Varrecchione wants to make sure they get the right people in place.
“We’re trying to find the right fit,” he said. “We need somebody who’s experienced enough to take over a new program. Sometimes that’s difficult. It’s difficult enough to find lacrosse coaches, but it’s even more difficult when you’re looking for somebody who’s got the skill set to start a program.”
The fundraising efforts will be ongoing for the foreseeable future, but it should be less stressful going forward. They won’t need to raise quite as much money, because the equipment and uniforms will already be paid for out of this year’s fundraising. Plus, they’ll have more time to get it done.
It all adds up to two new high school programs in Cranston that should be sustainable for years to come.
“We’re going to keep going,” Varrecchione said. “This is something that’s going to continue for a few years. The initial costs are going to be higher. Next year, we shouldn’t have to raise as much because we’ll have all the equipment purchased, the uniforms. They’ll be a lot of first-time and one-time costs this year. We want to keep this whole thing going.”