TRAVERSE CITY – High school boys lacrosse continues to grow in popularity around northern Michigan as two more local programs recently began their first season as MHSAA-sponsored sports.
Traverse City United, a co-op of Traverse City Central and Traverse City West, and Petoskey took the field for the first time last week as a school-sponsored varsity support.
While last week’s games served as the first MHSAA contests, lacrosse is nothing new in Traverse City or Petoskey as the sport had flourished at the club level for the better part of the last decade. The two programs join Traverse City St. Francis, which moved up to the varsity level a year ago, as the only four schools to currently support varsity lacrosse in northern Michigan.
“In 2006, when we started this, yes, this was the goal, but I didn’t really feel like it was realistic back then,” United coach Liberty Provost said. “I can’t ask for anything more than to have 20 guys who want to play. It’s, icing on the cake, to be brought into the schools and the state playoffs is fantastic.”
For Petoskey, the opportunity to become an MHSAA sport was not just an accomplishment for this current roster of players but for future classes.
“For the freshmen and sophomores, and the guys that are down in middle school it’s a huge deal because it’s kind of what they’ve been working towards,” Petoskey coach Brian Main said. “The few seniors we have brought the program along, it’s exciting for everyone.
“Our goals are day by day, we try to get better every day obviously, but I’m not putting any limitations on this team.”
Although only two games into the season, United is adjusting well as a new team, having picked up wins over Petoskey (16-4) in the inaugural game for both sides and Sault Ste. Marie (20-5).
“We’re strong right now for our inaugural season,” Provost said. “We’re pumped the guys are pumped, we know we’re going to put a good foundation in this year.”
As winter weather has wreaked havoc for spring sports, Petoskey has seen the field just once so far but is scheduled to travel to Bay City Western on Sunday.
“I feel like me and the couple other kids who have been on this team a while, just have to fill the role of what to do and how things are done,” Petoskey junior Danny Sysko said. “As a new program, we really want to set a standard of what we want to have done.”
United is a Division 1 program for the next two years of its co-op and will compete in a regional hosted by Grandville in May while Petoskey joins St. Francis in Division 2 and at an East Grand Rapids regional.
“We got a name now, a place in the city, people are going to start coming out,” Traverse City Central junior Ike Battle said. “Get a fan based growing, and the program is just going to go on from there. When I get older, I’m going to be able to look back and see this program was built and I was part of that.”