Time change for girls lacrosse leaves parents feeling left out

Some finding it difficult to make 5 p.m. games

High Schools

April 02, 2004|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Lenny Schwarzmann has derived great pleasure from watching his daughter, Lauren, on the lacrosse field. In recent years, there have been All-County and All-Metro accolades, not to mention a county title and a trip to the state finals.

This spring, however, Schwarzmann's biggest challenge is simply getting the opportunity to see his daughter play.

The problem is the result of a merger between the old Central Maryland Conference, which included most teams from Carroll County, and the Monocacy Valley Athletic League, which included many teams from Frederick and Washington counties.

Because schools in Frederick County don't play boys or girls lacrosse on the junior varsity level, Carroll County's previous routine of JV-varsity doubleheaders had to be changed this season. Now, the vast majority of varsity girls games begin at 5 instead of 6:30, and are followed by varsity boys.

"It's almost impossible. I'd probably have to call in sick from work," said Schwarzmann, who on many days works for the Postal Service as late as 5. "When I saw [the schedule], I said to my wife, `I'm in trouble. I'm not going to be able to see her senior year.' "

The change has forced many parents to miss all or part of their daughters' games and caused headaches for coaches and athletic directors alike.

"In my opinion, when we joined this new super league, everyone should have been given a few years to get JV lacrosse in," said North Carroll athletic director Troy Warehime. "That should have been part of the deal. It just screws the whole schedule up."

According to coaches, it also makes their jobs more difficult, hampering their ability to evaluate JV players, keeping the JV from observing and learning from varsity players, and preventing JV coaches from assisting during varsity games.

"There can't be a learning experience for JV watching varsity because we're on two different schedules," said Century coach Rose Pentz. "It's difficult trying to develop a program when you have them not being able to see each other. It's a learning experience just to watch."

Said North Carroll boys coach John Piper: "It's rough on the coaches. [JV coach] Brian Booz and I rely on each other a lot to help each other out. It's nice when I'm here and can help him out during games, and it's nice when he can be at the games and help out. The more eyes, the better off you are."

Some players also feel they are being denied the opportunity to play in prime-time games under the lights.

"I don't think it's really fair to the girls. I know they'd prefer to play later," said South Carroll coach Mac Kantruss. "I would rather play later at least some of the time. It's obviously hard for the parents to get there a lot of times. And the girls have expressed that it makes them feel like they're not a varsity program, since they're playing in the earlier slot that was usually the JV slot."

County officials say that the most prominent reason for always staging the girls games before the boys has to do with the greater availability of referees for the earlier girls games, through assigners from the Southern Lacrosse Officials Association (which assigns boys referees) and the Howard/Carroll Officials Association (which assigns the girls) dispute the claim.

John Sheehan, the assigner for the SLOA, said he normally has enough referees at his disposal to handle 5 p.m. start times. The new scheduling pattern, however, is causing him other problems.

"Where it used to take two officials to do the boys JV and varsity ... now we have to use twice as many officials," Sheehan said. "If you have four or five sets of games, it means you have to find an additional eight officials."

The most direct answer to the problem would be for Frederick County to add JV programs. But according to Lynn Carr, Frederick County's supervisor of athletics, the prospects of that happening anytime soon look bleak.

"It's just about growth of program in terms of what it costs," Carr said. "It has not been discussed to the point where anyone feels comfortable adding it to the budget. We try to keep the wheels on the wagon and maintain what we have. Growth in athletics is not a word that gets a lot of play right now."

Some in Carroll, however, don't buy the argument.

"It's crazy for Frederick not to have JV," Kantruss said. "They need to get kids out there playing at a level where they should be playing. I know some [teams] carry a ton of kids. It's not fair to the kids, and the programs need it to be able to improve."

Bruce Cowan, the supervisor of athletics in Carroll County, has vowed to look into the problem, saying that he has heard complaints, too.

Cowan said the county will explore going back to separate doubleheaders, finding a way to maneuver schedules so that both boys and both girls teams can again play on the same night, though possibly against different opponents. Kantruss suggested rolling back the starting time of the girls games to 5:30 or 6, to at least allow more parents time to get to the games.

For now, though, many parents simply will have to deal with seeing far less of their daughters on the field.

Betsy McConville, whose daughter, Meghan, plays for Liberty, works until 6 - too late to see any of the action.

"I'm trying to get off early for any game that I can or take leave for the day," said McConville, who said she has been able to watch half a game this season. "For the away games, I probably won't be able to make any of them at all."

For Schwarzmann, however, there is a silver lining.

"My son plays for Century's boys lacrosse team, so maybe in some strange way I was meant to see more of his games," he said.

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