Lacrosse program approved

By: Thomas Franz, | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published February 14, 2017

MACOMB TOWNSHIP — A new sport is coming to the Chippewa Valley school district.

A boys lacrosse program will play its first games this spring, and it will be a unified team of students from Macomb Dakota and Clinton Township Chippewa Valley.

The Chippewa Valley Board of Education approved the new program during a Feb. 6 meeting.

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With about 80 students expressing interest in the program this winter, there will be a varsity and junior varsity team based at Dakota. Athletic administrators said that of the 80 district students to express interest, about 70 of them were from Dakota.

Dakota athletic director Mike Fusco said that he expects each team to have about 25 athletes, but there will often be athletes moving between JV and varsity levels as the season progresses.

“We’re going to try to create interest that way,” Fusco said.

Mike Benavides and Rob Dameran will be co-head coaches of both teams to create a more seamless program at the beginning.

Lacrosse will not be a district-funded program, but instead, costs for equipment, jerseys and transportation will be footed by families of participants. Ice hockey and bowling are other sports in the district like that, but lacrosse will be the first sport to host games and practices at a district facility without receiving funding.

“There was an interest in those sports that surfaced. The board gave us the OK to sponsor those sports, but in a nonfunding way,” Fusco said. “We’re working on lowering costs as much as we can to get the program going.”

Chippewa Valley Athletic Director Chad Hottle expressed hope that this year’s team will create enough interest in order for Chippewa to field its own team next year.

“We’re excited. I’m a little disappointed we won’t be able to host our own team, but I was very happy with the idea of a unified team,” Hottle said. “My hope is that by having such great kids play on their team this spring, other kids will have a spark in interest so we can have our own team.”

The team will play in the Macomb Area Conference White Division. 

Benavides will lead the program after a playing and coaching career at L’Anse Creuse North. He teaches in the district and is also a strength and conditioning coach for Dakota’s football team.

“There’s only one team that’s going to be the first team ever, so that’s our motto. Everyone involved is making history for the first time,” Benavides said. 

Benavides said the program will face early challenges of getting kids interested embracing a new sport in the district.

“I think the biggest challenge is following the success of a lot of the previous Dakota sports teams. There’s such a long history of success at Dakota that there’s going to be some competition,” Benavides said. “We have enough kids with 3,000 students. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be competitive. I can’t put a number on wins and losses, but we want to compete and be respected and show that we know the game of lacrosse.”