Lacrosse Heating Up Gym Classes

Madison Fernandez, ‘17

As the end of the year approaches at BHSEC, many signs of spring and summer approach us. The weather gets warmer, pieces of turf are more apparent around the school, and the physical education board reports, “Change and Meet Outside.” In the fall semester, gym classes participated in sports such as soccer and European handball, sports that students generally had some background and knowledge in, or skills that could be easily attained. However, a new addition came to the gym classes this semester: lacrosse.

For many, it was their first time playing lacrosse, including Ms. Schultz. “We’ve had the equipment long before Mr. McVeigh or I were here,” she explained. “Mr. Gagstetter used to teach lacrosse, but I have never played.” The equipment consists of lacrosse sticks with a plastic pocket, whereas a traditional stick has a mesh or net pocket. This led to frustration among students because the ball easily bounces out of the pocket when trying to make a catch. There are only about three “real” lacrosse sticks with proper netting for use. Additionally, many of the plastic sticks are fragile, and have cracked with use. While this doesn’t affect game play, some students feel as if it affects the validity of the sport. Some have described it as “lacrosse junior.” However, the techniques taught are basic for safety reasons. Lacrosse is a generally aggressive sport, and BHSEC doesn’t have the type of equipment for protective padding. Since the sticks do break easily, there is an added factor to the issue of safety. Additionally, real lacrosse balls are not used because they are heavy – about five ounces – when thrown with force.

There are mixed reactions about this new unit. Ms. Schultz explained that she likes teaching it because it’s different and not common in other city schools. This is a point of discussion among students, however, because it doesn’t necessarily fit the atmosphere of BHSEC. One student expressed that lacrosse is a “rich white people sport,” accompanied by a preppy stereotype. Other students feel confined by the basic skill set during games, such as limiting stick to stick contact. “I enjoy watching the students’ skills improve,” said Ms. Schultz. “The younger grades are more receptive to it than the older ones.” Some students don’t mind it. “Tons of kids last year asked for different things this year, because they said that we were doing the same things over and over again, and now we have a new thing,” shared Ramon Reyes, 10th grade. Others simply stated, “Stop lacrosse.” Because of the large size of the gym classes, some students found themselves sitting on the sidelines during game play. For some students, the combination of increasing temperatures and the frustrations of the sport were not ideal.

If you were planning on taking a physical education class next semester, however, you won’t have a chance to play. “We try to do the same sport every three years,” Ms. Schultz explained, “because when you’re a freshman, we don’t want you playing the same thing when you’re a Year 1.” Overall, students are not averse to the idea of lacrosse, because it is something different than the usual soccer game, which many people already have skills in. The hardest part of lacrosse in gym class is finding the balance between safety and not feeling limited by the basic equipment.

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