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Orion's middle schools starts lacrosse teams



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The 7-8 grade team poses in front of their goal. Theyíll be the first 7-8 team in Orion history. Photo by G. Ouzounian (click for larger version)
April 11, 2012 - Sports are a priority in Orion Township and one of the newest entries to it's array of activities has expanded into the middle school realm.

For the first time ever, middle schools in Orion will feature lacrosse teams for grades five through eight. Organized into two teams of the upper and lower grades, the teams have already seen a spike in popularity and while they won't participate in any official league this year, signs point to an exciting season nonetheless.

"Well LOHS Athletic Director William Reese started this thing up and we had way more kids sign up than we were anticipating," said LOHS varsity Lacrosse Coach Brad Thomas. "We were hoping to have 25 per team sign up, and we have that, but we had around 40 kids sign up for each team. We took the first 25 but next year we're hoping to add another team to each level."

The importance to the high school to have middle school sports is starting kids earlier garners a much greater level of experience. Lacrosse is a relatively new sport in Orion and the creation of La crosse teams at the middle school level is an indication of the sports popularity and growth. More than that, however, Thomas said he's simply happy to provide another choice for kids in grades five through eight.

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"If baseball or track or football is something they're not interested in now they have this too," he said. "It's just another opportunity to get out and play a sport and the hope is the longer they play the better they will be and the more they will understand the game.

"When you think about the baseball and basketball teams you have kids who have played since second grade, but with lacrosse we have rarely had a kid not picking it up in their freshman year. Now we have an opportunity and with that chance, these kids now have the opportunity to play on even longer into the collegiate level. That's just the way it is."

The teams pay dues currently, though the cost is less expensive than the high school teams. The dues and fundraising, some through the high school are the driving force behind the teams' budget.

As far as the staff running the programs, four parent volunteers and LOHS alumni are responsible for coaching the middle schoolers. Thomas said the response was huge from parents and from volunteers hoping to coach the kids. Lake Orion Resident Tim Fogg is responsible for coaching the 5-6 team while resident Tony Gorsick, along with assistant and resident Marty Goodrich coach the 7-8 team.

Two former LOHS players, Mike DiPonio and Nick DiPonio are also on site to help the middle school teams.

"We've had a great response and right now we have parent volunteer coaches working really hard to get these kids ready," said Thomas. "They had a skirmish on March 31 against Waterford and it was really good to see kids out there representing Orion. They also had their first game on Saturday against Oxford, who has also just started a middle school lacrosse team."

The teams, while not in a league, have a schedule of 11 games with one tournament at the end of the year.

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