Field conditions cause injury

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To the Editor:

A copy of this letter was sent to the Oak Bluffs planning board. 

April 27 was a normal postgame day for us on the lacrosse practice field. After an underwhelming performance against Monomoy, it was time to get work fixing mistakes, and improving our fitness and skill.

Our second drill of the day was full-field carry. Ball carrier sprints from goal to goal while cradling a ball in his stick. A defender runs with him; the goal is to shadow him and prevent him from getting an inside lane toward the goal. It is a simple, yet effective, full-field, non-contact drill that focuses on skill and conditioning. Up until the 27th, we have never had someone hurt simply running from end to end on our practice field.

Graham Stearns, our senior goalie, captain, and one of the best lacrosse players on the Cape and Islands was about the fifth player to run the drill. About halfway through his run, his right foot landed on one of the many uneven spots on our practice field, rolled his foot, and torqued it. By the time I made it to him, he was already taking his cleat off to examine the damage. The end result of him doing something we do every day was fracturing his foot. He has surgery on May 3.

Most of Graham’s high school career did not go according to plan. Stuck behind a senior captain his freshman year. COVID canceled his sophomore year. Despite an exceptional season last year, we were not very good, which made it a challenge to get schools to take a hard look at him. We do not compete in an area that draws much attention from college coaches, so we need every advantage to get our kids a good look. We were making progress on that front this season, and working to get him “on the radar” this year. The pieces were falling into place up until the 27th.

The good news is that Graham is going to be fine. He has been accepted at Colgate. He is the president of the National Honor Society at school, and is at the top of his class, and a leader in the school. On the same day he broke his foot, he found out that he was awarded an MVYouth scholarship.

For every Graham out there, there are many kids that really need the extra opportunity athletics provides to help them with their next step in life, quite often college. As a small Island community, we have to work harder to get our kids noticed.

Quite simply, the current condition of our fields is both a physical liability and a hindrance to competing safely, and at a high level.

Please approve the field project. It will become another valuable tool to help our kids create more opportunities for themselves. What do I say to the next Graham who really needs the boost that athletics provides when he suffers a season-ending injury because of our fields? Sorry, but the community decided not to provide you with the best fields we could afford. Good luck in the future, though.

John Wilson
Edgartown

Wilson is the assistant boys lacrosse coach at MVRHS.  –Ed.

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