Both of Cranston's high schools have reputations for having some of the best sports teams and programs in Rhode Island, but one sport — boys lacrosse — has been absent from the roster.
A growing group of parents, student athletes and supporters hope to change all that.
"Lacrosse is a huge sport at the collegiate level and it would open the doors to scholarships and other opportunities," said Mark Moretti, a parent involved in the effort.
"I'm not doing this just for my kid," Moretti said. "I'd love to be on the ground floor of something so 10 years from now, kids playing lacrosse can say 'thank you very much,'"
The group is in the process of raising money to pay for uniforms, officials, facilities and other costs associated with building a new team sport from the ground up.
The School Committee and school officials, including the athletic director, fundamentally support boys lacrosse — as long as the teams raise the money themselves. There just isn't money in the budget for it, said Annette Cataldo, a lead organizer.
Interest in lacrosse has been growing in Cranston. CLCF's lacrosse program has been growing in size even though it's still relativley new. A recent signup "had more than enough to fill both teams at each school," Cataldo said, including more than 30 who signed up at West.
"Right now, if a child goes to public school, then they have no option to play lacrosse after eighth grade," Cataldo said.
By not hosting boys lacrosse, the athletic program has one less avenue for a student to explore, one less scholarship to apply for. It's that post-high-school impact that is motivating much of the effort, Moretti said. And in Cranston, where there's strong interest in high school sports, the absence of boys lacrosse is an increasingly glaring omission.
The city's feeder programs have a proven track record, not only of producing excellent athletes, but also instilling morals, community values and citizenship among Cranston youngsters. So adding lacrosse to the mix makes perfect sense, said Moretti.
"The community in Cranston is unbelievably supportive for all kids in endeavors," Moretti said. "When you need to get something done, Cranston is the place to get it done."
The group's goal is lofty. They hope to be up and running in time for the spring season and have to raise into the five figures. Along with accepting donations — including a "substantial" donation from CLCF — they're in the process of organizing fundraisers and partnerships with area businesses and sponsors. Keep an eye on our calendar for upcoming events.
To make a donation, send a check to Cranston Public Schools, 845 Park ave., Cranston, RI 02910 made out to the attention of Joe Balducci. Be sure to put "lacrosse" on the memo line.