High school sports

Mariner girls lacrosse approved for varsity status next season

Majority of funding to come from outside proposed athletic budget
By Mark Haskell | Apr 09, 2013

Rockland — The Oceanside girls lacrosse team held a preseason play day April 6 at Pendleton Field in Thomaston, helping varsity and jayvee programs from Lewiston and neighboring Camden Hills prepare for their upcoming regular seasons.

At this time next year, the Mariners, now a club team, will be preparing for their own "varsity" regular season.

The Regional School Unit 13 School Board voted unanimously April 4 to add girls lacrosse as a Mariner varsity sport next spring. The team has begun its second year as a club sport in 2013.

"I am pleased with the turn of events and that the girls have been rewarded with a unanimous vote for varsity status by the [school] board," said Mariner coach Angie Vachon. "The board has continued on from that first unanimous vote in the fall of 2011 [when they initially approved girls lacrosse as a club sport]. I could not be more honored that they have put their full faith behind the team."

The one caveat that came with the vote was the stipulation that athletic director Jim Leonard find the majority of the sport's funding outside the current RSU 13 athletic budget.

"Those girls have worked very, very hard, they've represented our school and our community really well and they deserve the opportunity to compete at the varsity level," said Leonard. "I'm ecstatic they will get that opportunity."

"We've got to find the money to make it work, and we will," he said.

Leonard said the proposed annual athletic budget for the 2013-14 school year is "around" $373,000 with the cost of girls lacrosse to be "somewhere between $3,500-$5,200," though next school year's athletic budget has not been made.

The budget for RSU 13 is expected to be finalized June 11.

Leonard said the costs for different sports fluctuate, but that lacrosse was closer to the bottom of the tier in terms of overall cost.

"The school board voted to approve the girls lacrosse team for varsity status with no additional costs incurred in the budget," Leonard said. "That means I'll have to operate within the budget I'm given in order to fund that team. Given that factor, it's probable that much of the funding for this team will come from outside the budget.

"I'm confident we'll find what we need in order to allow these ladies the opportunity to compete at the varsity level," he said. "They have clearly earned the right to do so."

The Mariners have already done a great deal of fundraising since they were approved for club status in 2011 and have received various grants, which helped pay for the majority of the team's equipment along with U.S. Lacrosse memberships, providing the players with insurance, which the school does not provide for club teams.

While Vachon plans to be proactive in the fundraising, she hopes "that someone will be able take over the driving force role to get things done in that regard, so that I may have more time to work on the coaching aspect."

"We have a wonderful parent support group and the team will certainly be looking to them for that continued work in fundraising or more creative ideas to fund what is needed throughout the coming years," she said.

In a nutshell, Vachon said, "Somehow, it will all work out for the girls."

We may have to work a little more and a little harder than more established teams, but I think our OHS girls lacrosse team has more than proven their mettle there," she said.

"We do hope that the folks in the communities that make up our RSU can make it to a game or two this season, not only to see what it's all about, but also so that they can witness the growth from their team that is sure to come," Vachon said.

It is unclear whether Oceanside will play in Eastern Class B or Western Class B next season.

Courier Publications Associate Sports Director Mark Haskell can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email at mhaskell@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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