School board reinstates lacrosse assistant coach positions

— After reviewing the Cazenovia school district’s coaching roster and finding a lot of “breakage” — or newer coaches hired at a lesser salary than the coaches they replaced — the Cazenovia Board of Education last week decided there was enough budget savings found to allow them to reinstate the two boys lacrosse assistant coach positions that had been cut from the budget in the spring.

While lacrosse program supporters, who lobbied the board en masse last month for the reinstatement, were pleased by the board’s action, it also opened an unexpected Pandora’s Box of concerns by residents who demanded to know how the newfound savings were created, why boys lacrosse was the only sport that benefitted and why the safety of male athletes seems to take precedence over the safety of female athletes in general, but particularly in lacrosse.

The lacrosse coaching funding issue started back in April, when the school board voted to save $11,000 in the 2012-13 budget by cutting funding for two boys lacrosse assistant coaching positions, one for varsity and one for junior varsity. The change cut the paid lacrosse coaching staff from five to three, making the modified, JV and varsity head coaches the only paid coaching positions in the program.

At every school board meeting since then, varsity lacrosse coach Jim Longo and assistant coach Eric Nieman (whose paid position was cut by the budget) have appeared, presented arguments and magazine articles, and requested that the board replace the assistant coach salaries. Their repeated comments concerned the lack of supervision and direct coaching that the 30 or so players can receive with only one coach, as well as the safety issue of only one coach being responsible for a group of young men playing a physical, contact sport that can be very dangerous. While the team does have volunteer coaches that assist the team, Longo consistently said that he cannot count on volunteers alone to make up the coaching gap.

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