Daily Archives: June 24, 2008

Lauren “Chico” Chicomascolo Brought Lacrosse Skills From Connecticut With Her To Lead St. Margarets To Title


(From NewsTimes.com article)

Lauren Chicomascolo gave area lacrosse fans a glimpse of what we’d be missing, offered a snapshot of a star in the making, during one of her last games for Newtown High.

This was in the spring of 2006 when Chicomascolo, still just a sophomore, led the Nighthawks past Brookfield 14-10 in the South-West Conference tournament final. Two of her game-high six goals came down the stretch after the Bobcats closed to within one, and she earned the most valuable player award.

Well, the future is now for the girl known as Chico, whose family moved to Orange County, Calif., two years ago. Recently named All-America for the second time, she closed out her scholastic career by helping St. Margaret’s Episcopal School capture the inaugural girls Southern Section championship, which includes Orange and Los Angeles counties.

Chicomascolo, who plays center, scored six goals in the 16-8 win over Palos Verdes and was named the MVP.

How’s that for sports symmetry?

“I never thought I’d feel anything like I did winning the SWC championship at Newtown. It was such a good experience,” she said during a recent telephone conversation a few hours before her high school graduation. “This year was really special, being the first team to do it, making history.”

East Coast. West Coast. For Chico, some things never changed. Including her devotion to Newtown, even though she couldn’t stay as long as she would’ve hoped. During lacrosse-related trips back East, she often stayed with Nighthawks’ coach Maura Fletcher.

 “We always talk. We never really stopped talking. It was so hard to leave them,” Chicomascolo said. “Maura is such a great coach.”

Imagine how good the four-time defending SWC champions might’ve been if Chicomascolo had been able to join forces with friend and fellow All-American Courtney Gleason?

“I haven’t seen her since a lacrosse tournament in Maryland last summer and we really miss her,” Gleason wrote in an e-mail. “When she played for Newtown as a sophomore she was amazing. Unstoppable. I can’t imagine how much she’s improved now and I would never want to go ‘one v. one’ with her.

“I remember when we were at practice and would get paired with her, we would sneak to the back of the line because no one wanted to go against her. If we had her around the past two years, our chances of making it to the state championship would have definitely been greater, I think. She had really good chemistry with everyone on the field and was a very unselfish player.”

Chicomascolo’s reputation preceded her arrival at St. Margaret’s, a small school in San Juan Capistrano with 100 students per grade and a modest lacrosse program that existed for about five years before she enrolled.

“Everybody knew about Chico before she got there,” St. Margaret’s coach Summer Crabtree noted during a recent phone call. “I had heard about her. I didn’t even know how to spell her name; I didn’t know how to pronounce her last name. But I’d heard about Chico and that she was coming and that she was a phenomenal player and that I was extremely lucky to have her.

“And she lived up to every bit of that and more.”

A 5-foot-7 left-hander, Chicomascolo scored 65 goals in her one season at Newtown and 68 goals for St. Margaret’s last year before enjoying a breakout senior campaign this spring. The Orange County Register Player of the Year, she had 85 goals, 40 assists, 81 ground balls and 203 draw controls.

“She’s made my job very easy,” said Crabtree, whose first season coincided with Chicomascolo’s arrival. “She shows by example. She’s not the most vocal leader on the field but she has such a strong presence out there that she leads the team in just her actions.”

She’s also got skills, athleticism and the talent to play Division I. Crabtree, who played at Princeton, should know.

“When she walks out on that field she’s just a dominant player. She’s dominant in her size. She’s dominant in her skills. She’s dominant in her speed and in her knowledge of the game, as well,” Crabtree said. “Everyone who watched Chico, and coaching her, I felt like every time she got the ball she could take it in and score. And a lot of times she chose not to. She wanted to help her teammates develop and create more opportunities for her teammates. She is equal strength on both sides and she has a powerful shot. Our goalies were scared when she would shoot in practice. She has a shot that you would develop in college.”

Chicomascolo grew up in Glastonbury and had lived in California for four years before the family spent the 2005-06 school year in Newtown. Because lacrosse remains in the growing stages in California, she occasionally returned to the East Coast for summer tournaments and clinics. At home, she would drive an hour south to San Diego, seeking out the best competition in the state for weekend tournaments.

Her hard work over the years, from coast to coast, paid off in the form of another championship for her team, All-America recognition and a college scholarship.

We got a quick look into the future, a tease of her talents. Too bad we couldn’t watch her develop into one of the best in the country.

Contact Ed Flink at

(203) 731-3379 or

sports@newstimes.com

“Shout Out” For Cameron Piorek – Saturday July 12 At Home Depot Center, 4:30 PM on Field 5..DVD Being Filmed Live To Help Cameron Walk Again…Sponsored By L.A. Riptide and O.C. Lacrosse Association


SPORTSMANSHIP IN LACROSSE: MASSACHUSSETTS GROUP EDUCATES PRINCIPALS, ATHLETIC DIRECTORS, COACHES AND STUDENT LEADERS TO POSITIVE ASPECTS OF LEADERSHIP, SPORTSMANSHIP, AND TEAMWORK


(From Telegram.com, By Rich Garven TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
rgarven@telegram.com

West Boylston High School’s Michael Dziczek found the Sportsmanship Summit to be a worthwhile experience — and not just because he got out of school and spent a day at the home of the New England Patriots.

The just-graduated senior liked the program so much he attended it twice, including his junior year when Doug Flutie was a guest speaker.

While the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association is best known for running tournaments for high school athletes, the organization has shifted its efforts to educational programs for students and coaches, including the annual Sportsmanship Summit, which has been held the last three years at Gillette Stadium.

“It was very informative,” said Mr. Dziczek, who captained the basketball and baseball teams this year. “It was all about teaching you to be a leader and getting people to look up to you and have a positive view about it.”

The MIAA was founded 30 years ago when the state’s principals felt they were spending an inordinate amount of time managing athletics. Since then the governing body of high school sports in the state has undergone tremendous growth and extended its influence while dramatically altering its view of where its efforts and resources should be channeled.

“We’re an education association, not an athletic association,” executive director Richard Neal insisted last month during an interview.

To underscore that point Neal didn’t laugh when a visitor jokingly suggested the MIAA is due for a name change, the word “athletics” in its title being outdated. Instead, he took a moment to ponder the thought.

“No one has suggested we change our name, but it would make good sense,” he replied.

Conducting postseason tournaments remains the MIAA’s most visible undertaking and accounts for about 75 percent of its annual revenue. There’s more to it than in the early years, though, because of a huge increase in participation by girls (mirroring a national trend) and the growth of sports such as soccer, indoor track and lacrosse, particularly in Central and Western Massachusetts.

Regulating athletics is another responsibility the founding fathers bestowed on the MIAA, but Neal estimated less than 5 percent of the organization’s resources are now devoted to that area. With the tournaments lasting a total of 12 weeks or so, that leaves a lot of free time for an administrative staff that numbers about 20.

It’s time, the MIAA believes, that is well spent.

Starting in the mid-1980s, the organization aggressively moved into an area it refers to as “educational athletics.” The lessons of leadership, teamwork and sportsmanship that had traditionally been viewed as natural byproducts of the sporting experience would no longer be taken for granted. Nor would the idea athletes were any less immune to alcohol or drug abuse than the general student population, all of which led to the development of so-called wellness programs.

There were 213,073 participants in MIAA athletic programs — a figure that ranked 11th in the nation — in 2006-07 according to a survey by the National Federation of State High School Associations. Virtually all of them are exposed to some level of sportsmanship, leadership and wellness education through mandatory meetings each prospective athlete must attend at his or her school prior to the start of each season.

“Very sound and cutting edge, particularly when you’re looking at athletics as a classroom,” said Brian Callaghan, a former athletic director and current assistant principal at Westboro High School.

“The kids love that stuff,” said Russ Davis, who has coached soccer, basketball and softball at Hudson High School. “I really think those programs are worthwhile. Coaches get upset because they don’t back coaches, but what they do for the kids is outstanding. It really is.”

The MIAA has held the Sportsmanship Summit for the last 14 years, the daylong affair drawing more than 1,000 participants. The audience, which pays $40 to $50 each to attend, includes school administrators, athletic directors, coaches and, perhaps most important, the MIAA’s target audience of student-athlete leaders.

In an effort to get more feedback from student athletes the MIAA initiated a Student Ambassadors program this year. Each member school was eligible to have two students participate with the criteria being they had to include a junior and a senior and a boy and a girl.

Senior-to-be Paul Zapantis was one of two representatives from Clinton High School. Every couple of months the Mid-Wach League schools participating in the program met in Hudson where the students, accompanied by their respective athletic directors, would sound off on all manner of topics while an MIAA representative took notes.

“We definitely got to voice our concerns,” said Mr. Zapantis, a member of the Clinton Gaels’ football and baseball teams. “I think they did listen. Some of the new rules we saw, kids didn’t agree with them. We’d tell (assistant director of student services) Pete Smith why we thought they were wrong and why they were right and he’d take that information back to the head guys.”

Despite its full-fledged commitment, which includes doling out more than $400,000 the last two years (with revenue of $203,000), the question remains whether the MIAA’s efforts are necessary or worth the return on the investment. Health education already is taught in schools and several coaches pointed out their profession has traditionally stressed the virtues of leadership, sportsmanship and teamwork on a daily basis during the season.

Mr. Zapantis guessed about 50 percent of his schoolmates “know about the MIAA” and what it stands for. MIAA president Jim Peters admitted the overall impact of “educational athletics” is difficult to measure.

“It’s like anything else, we’re getting to some,” said Mr. Peters, the principal at Monson High School. “Across the board probably not (a dramatic change), but I think were getting to more than we did 20 years ago. That’s just my belief. I do think we’re coming along with those initiatives across the state and we have to keep plugging away.”

In the last 10 years, the MIAA has plunged into the area of educating principals, athletic directors and coaches through workshops and clinics, many of them mandatory.

“The MIAA is really serving as a flagship for professional development across the commonwealth,” said Sean Gilrein, a member of the nonprofit organization’s board of directors and the Dudley-Charlton school superintendent. “That’s essential.”

The motivation, MIAA representatives said, comes from a decline in the number of qualified principals, athletic directors and coaches entering the field over the last decade.

According to Mr. Neal, there is statistically a complete turnover in the principals and athletic directors at the organization’s 371 member schools every 5-1/2 years. Although schools ultimately fill those positions, “In many cases it’s not what they were hoping to get, but the best person available,” MIAA spokesman Paul Wetzel said.

Mr. Callaghan agreed. “I can personally attest to that,” he said, noting more sports and fewer quality candidates has made for a less-than-desirable situation.

Starting in 1998, the MIAA began requiring first-time high school coaches to take a coaches’ education course within one year of being hired. The course emphasizes creating a positive overall experience for student-athletes, one that places less importance on winning.

According to the MIAA, about 600 coaches received training in each of the past three years.

“It’s part of the mentality that started about 10 years ago, to create winning attitudes rather than winning programs,” Mr. Callaghan said.

Not everyone agrees with the MIAA’s foray into professional development.

“My own personal opinion is I think that’s best left to the schools,” Oxford Superintendent of Schools Ernest Boss said.

And for all the effort placed on diminishing the importance of winning, well, nice try, said one longtime, multi-sport coach.

“The kids play athletics to win,” said Mr. Davis, who coached the Hudson softball team to its third straight Division 2 state final appearance last weekend. “I don’t care what they say, there’s not a kid who goes out there (just) to have fun. Fun is part of it, but ask any kid and they’ll tell you its more enjoyable to be on a winning team than a losing team.”

PHOTO: RC Starz Player Sends in Picture of “Neck Check” By East Coast Team


Photoghaper: Jeff K.  
Subject:  RC Starz (Socal Competive Team) Player Get’s “Checked in the neck” at East Coast Tournament (Annapolis, MD) – June 2008