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  • Writer's pictureThis Is Rutherford

This is The Rutherford Lacrosse Association

by Krista Vellis

Coaches Jen Sullivan and Sherri Herninko with some of their 5/6th grade lacrosse players

At the April 8th Board of Ed meeting, Rutherford Lacrosse Association players from the 3rd through 8th grade teams dressed in their lacrosse uniforms and stood behind parent Cecily Tralongo as she spoke to receptive board members about establishing a high school lacrosse team in the near future.

Superintendent Jack Hurley and several board members applauded the athletes for coming out and speaking on behalf on the lacrosse program. Mr. Vincent Silvestri, whose daughter plays on the 5th/6th grade team, thanked the board for their time and said he would be back again next month to advocate for a high school lacrosse team.

The fields of Rutherford come alive with sports programs in the spring. Thanks to Rutherford Lacrosse Association founders Chris Griffin and Justin Tralongo, lacrosse is one of those programs.

This is Rutherford interviewed Chris and Justin to find out more about it.

TIR: Why did you get involved with the LAX program?

Chris Grifffin (CG): I’ve played lacrosse since I was 13. I knew I wanted to bring the sport to Rutherford so that I could share my love of the game with future generations of players. Then as luck would have it, I met Justin Tralongo at a mutual friend’s house. Justin coaches at Northern Highlands High School. We hit it off immediately and that night decided to work together and develop a program for Rutherford.

TIR: Who runs the Rutherford LAX?

CG: A board of interested parents, as well as Justin and I collectively decide what happens with the program.

TIR: How and when did you end up bringing the LAX program to Rutherford?

CG: Five years ago, Justin and I ran a one-week summer camp for 125 children. Since then, our program has grown to include 175 participants with boys and girls teams ranging from 2nd grade to 8th. Now we are members of a league and play 10-12 games per season. We also offer a lacrosse clinic for the younger children.

TIR: In which season do you play lacrosse?

CG: Officially, lacrosse is a spring sport but nowadays, in NJ, you can play it in the summer, fall, and winter seasons.

TIR: How supportive has the community of Rutherford been to the program?

CG: We have gotten a positive response from the majority of people in town, which shows by the number of children willing to try a new sport. Having the new Tryon turf field lined for both girls’ and boys’ lacrosse shows you how supportive the town has been.

Lacrosse game on RHS field

TIR: What are your hopes for the future of the program?

CG: Our goal is to get both boys’ and girls’ lacrosse into Rutherford High School, having our current program act as a feeder program. Our girls’ teams are filled with some super talented athletes who are picking up the game quickly. Lacrosse is one of the fastest growing sports in the country and can provide potential paths to higher education for both boys and girls.

TIR: Lacrosse is a fairly new sport to the town of Rutherford. What information would you like the public and possible participants to know about the program?

CG: On the physical side, lacrosse combines all aspects of athleticism from speed, grace, hand eye coordination and physical strength. There is also a very real spiritual side to the game. From its early roots in the North American Indian culture to its modern day version, lacrosse has always been about community. The sport teaches the elements of teamwork while fostering a sense of being part of a community larger than one’s town. I have friends all over the country and we get together once a year for a tournament in Lake Placid, NY. The event has teams ranging from U11 to 65+. Name me another sport that offers that and in one location with an age range that wide. That fact alone highlights the special nature of lacrosse and the people who participate in the game. I would love for one of our players to participate in Lake Placid in 40 years from now playing and remembering he/she started in Rutherford.

So it seems that if the lacrosse program’s numbers continue to climb and their players remain this passionate about the sport, a high school lacrosse team may be within reach. It will be exciting to see what the future holds.

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