Parents irked at idea of lacrosse team moving to “developmental league”

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Mattituck/Greenport/Southold attackman Trish Brisotti trying to work her way around Kings Park's Kaitlyn Trodden.

Parents of Mattituck High School girls’ varsity lacrosse players are upset that their kids could end up playing in what’s being called a “developmental league,” which would be made up of less competitive teams that currently compete in Division II. Teams in the new league would not be eligible to compete in postseason play.

The team, which also includes students from Southold and Greenport high schools, went 1-13 this season, but many parents who voiced their concerns at the school’s June 21 board meeting said the numbers don’t reflect the students’ dedication and spirit or their competitive abilities.

Parent Karen Hoeg said she was disappointed with the lack of communication from the district when athletic director Gregg Wormuth responded to a survey from Section XI, the organization that oversees high school sports, asking whether the district would be interested in joining the new league, which doesn’t currently exist. Mr. Wormuth said that he had only responded hypothetically to the survey, saying the district was interested in learning more about the league and has not made any decisions on what to do about the team. He also said he’s not sure Section XI will even create a developmental league.

Ms. Hoeg said 47 seventh- and eighth-graders played junior high lacrosse this year — proof that Mattituck’s lacrosse program is gaining traction in the district. She added that the varsity team has suffered because there have been several coaches over the years. This year was coach Julie Milliman’s first with the team.

“The program needs consistent coaches,” said Ms. Hoeg.

Diane Stumpf, whose daughter Jessica played on the current Division II team, said a developmental league would be “taking a step back from our kids.”

“This is a great opportunity. Don’t take that from them,” she said. “We’re considered a ‘hot spot’ for lacrosse.”

Mr. Wormuth said he was asked to take the survey several weeks ago.

“They were looking to provide relief to schools who haven’t been able to win,” he said. “I said I would like to hear more. We are not making any decisions. I am not for or against this. I don’t know anything about it.”

There are currently 23 schools that compete in Division II.

“There have to be six or seven teams to do it,” he said of the developmental league. “It’s a real league. You have a real schedule and a significant number of games.”

He did say, however, that teams in the developmental league would not be eligible for the playoffs and therefore could not compete for Suffolk County or Long Island titles.

Mr. Wormuth said the district likely won’t revisit the issue until the fall.

The Mattituck lacrosse team, whose only victory came against winless Center Moriches, showed some improvement during the year, even coming within three or fewer goals in its final two games. In the end though, the team was outscored 105-213 during the 14-game season. Mattituck played six playoff teams in the regular season and lost by an average of 9.8 goals in that stretch. Mattituck did not play any of the top six teams in Division II.

Parent David Prokop, who said the players had a very competitive season and were looking forward to improving next year, was also not convinced that the district was taking the lacrosse community’s feelings to heart.

“Is there an agenda in the AD’s office?” he asked. “If baseball goes 0-12 next year, are we going to knock them down to a developmental level?

“I think this team has arrived,” Mr. Prokop added.

Developmental leagues have been used in other sports at times in Suffolk County. A developmental league in girls’ soccer has been used some years, including this upcoming season. That league comprises seven teams, including Riverhead.

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