When tornadoes ripped across patches of the Southeast and Northeast earlier this spring, high school athletes were notably affected. Most of the focus of the recovery efforts for athletes focused on baseball teams or, in one notable case, a track and field star. Now it's become clear that in Massachusetts, at least one other sport was also sidetracked: Boy's lacrosse.
According to Mass Live.com, Springfield (Mass.) Cathedral High's lacrosse team had nearly all of its facilities and equipment demolished by the EF-3 tornado that tore through the state on June 1. That storm hit at a particularly uncooperative time, with the program nearing what was widely considered the most significant game in program history: A Western Massachusetts quarterfinal matchup against West Springfield (Mass.) High, one of Cathedral's conference rivals.
Because the game was so near in date, Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association regulations made a postponement extremely difficult. Then, when things looked most bleak, another area rival -- Suffield Academy -- donated its entire stock of uniforms, helmets and gloves to help Cathedral get on the field.
As Mass Live put it, for one night, the purple-clad Panthers were instead black and orange Tigers.
"In our heart, we were always Cathedral, and that wasn't going to change," Cathedral senior Sean Kavanagh told Mass Live. "Without [Suffield Academy], we probably wouldn't have been able to play, so for that we were grateful."
While Cathedral lost the heated quarterfinal by a score of 10-4, even getting on the field was considered an enormous achievement in itself. And, thanks to a season in which the Panthers improved from 4-16 to 13-7, there is plenty of optimism for the future, even if the 2012 campaign will have to start with a huge rebuilding and re-stocking effort.
That drive has begun in earnest already, thanks to a helping hand from U.S. Lacrosse, the sport's unified governing body. The organization approved Cathedral coach Daryl DeVillier's application for a grant to help the school buy new equipment for both its boys and girls lacrosse programs.
"We'll be back," DeVillier said. "I don't know where, but we'll be playing. To the player, that's the attitude they have. …
"The game is the game, but there's so many life lessons that you draw from sports," DeVillier said. "This becomes more than a win-or-lose situation."