Tolland Lacrosse Celebrates 10 Years

Tolland High School lacrosse coach, Victor Hurtuk organized a brief ceremony to acknowledge the 10th anniversary of boys varsity lacrosse at THS. Conducted just prior to the start of the THS varsity lacrosse home game with Somers High School on Saturday, April 26.

Coach Hurtuk stood with THS assistant coach Justin Lappen, THS players, and the Somers players and coaches at midfield while a review of the THS lacrosse start-up history was read.

Joining everyone on the field was Mr. Lee Pinney, the THS inaugural head coach from the 2003 commencement lacrosse season. Pinney coached at THS from 2003-2005. Mr. Pinney is currently coaching lacrosse at RHAM High School.

Three THS students – Brendan Davis (2004), Tony Karr (2005), and Mike Montenegro (2005) – played youth recreation lacrosse with the Vernon Lacrosse Association. During the Fall of 2002, they began recruiting schoolmates to help start a lacrosse team at THS.

The boys received support from THS administrators to add lacrosse. Superintendent William Guzman and the 2002 Tolland Board of Education sanctioned including varsity lacrosse in the THS sports budget beginning in Spring 2005. The start-up players and their families would need to self-fund the 2003 and 2004 lacrosse seasons as a THS junior varsity team.

Many of the players’ parents followed the leadership of Mr. Jamie Bernier, Mrs. Kelly Levesque, and Mr. Ray Borque by joining in the formation of the Friends of Tolland High Lacrosse in late 2002. Friends assisted the boys by managing fundraisers for the purchase of team uniforms, goals, and practice equipment – plus creating the budget to hire a coach. Friends members looked to the great success of the youth and school lacrosse teams in Somers as a model for lacrosse play in Tolland. Understanding this history, Coach Hurtuk scheduled the recognition ceremony for when the Somers High School team was in town.

Mr. Joel Arnold, THS counselor helped the boys and the members of Friends to organize the junior varsity team and connect with lacrosse resources in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Mr. Arnold was active in youth and school sports as a coach. As a former athletic director, Mr. Arnold enjoyed great insight regarding the requirements of developing a successful high school sports team.

Mrs. Libby Davis represented the Friends of Tolland High Lacrosse in recruiting Mr. Lee Pinney of Somers as the 2003 inaugural head coach. Lee Pinney had helped to start lacrosse in Somers over 30 years ago for both boys and girls. Pinney had recently assisted Suffield families in introducing lacrosse to their public high school. Lee Pinney is in the Connecticut Lacrosse Hall of Fame and has playing fields in Somers named in his honor; the Pinney-Modissete Athletic Complex.

THS boys’ lacrosse started in Spring 2003 with no seniors, one junior, 15 sophomores, and some freshmen. Only Davis, Karr, and Montenegro had ever held a lacrosse stick. Players’ families recall a painful but glorious beginning for lacrosse at THS.

The players could not wait and Superintendent Guzman approved adding a self-funded, varsity squad for competitive play in Spring 2004. Victor Hurtuk joined the program as a co-head coach with Lee Pinney. Hurtuk has managed the THS lacrosse program ever since his arrival 10 years ago. Victor Hurtuk is a teacher in the Tolland public school system.

Friends of Tolland High Lacrosse initiated the Coach Pinney and Counselor Arnold Lacrosse Scholarship in 2007 to recognize their significant contributions to the start of THS lacrosse. The recipient is a THS senior lacrosse player meeting the criteria of sportsmanship, leadership, and academic success. The THS scholarship committee selects the player with assistance from Coach Victor Hurtuk. Justin Lappen, THS assistant lacrosse coach, is the first recipient of the scholarship.

The 2014 THS lacrosse season marks the 10th year of varsity lacrosse and 11th year of junior varsity lacrosse for the school. The current lacrosse program is greatly indebted to the founding players, their families, Coach Pinney, Counselor Arnold, Superintendent Guzman, and Coach Hurtuk for their generous work starting lacrosse at THS over 10 years ago.

 

This article was submitted by Peter Montenegro.

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