No football this year for LMS

Published 4:06 pm Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The atmosphere at Lunenburg Middle School (LMS) will have a notable absence this fall as the school goes without a football team for only the second time in 38 years.

The reason for the absence this year is a lack of participation.

“We only had 11 boys to come out, and it’s just not enough for a team,” said LMS Principal Dr. Sharon Stanislas.

Al McCrimmon, LMS athletic director and football coach, said the bare minimum of players to field a team is approximately 22.

“When you have 11 guys out there, that means they’ve got to be on all teams, and some of those in sixth grade, they’re going to be playing with 15- to 14-year-old kids,” McCrimmon said. “I was worried about the safety of the kids. The safety of the kids comes first.”

Stanislas said she did not know what accounted for the low participation numbers but said young players have had another playing option available in the form of Lunenburg Lightning Football, a community program.

“I was told that Lightning increased its age limit; so, from 12, they went up to 13,” she said. “I don’t know if that had an impact or how it impacted the boys coming out to play for Lunenburg Middle School, but we just didn’t have good participation.”

The LMS football program has served a variety of purposes during its decades of existence.

“I was saddened by the fact that we didn’t have enough participation to have a team because team sports enhance students’ self-esteem, it’s team-building and it helps build character in students,” Stanislas said. “And it does something for team spirit in the building.”

She said LMS football has also served as a feeder program for Central High School, something Central Varsity Head Football Coach Will Thomas has appreciated, along with coaches before him.

“A lot of good players have come through the middle school program,” Thomas said. “Years ago, it was where kids from Kenbridge and Victoria played football together for the first time. Friendships and bonds were made there and the building blocks for many of our best teams over the years.”

He said the middle school teams have had low numbers for quite some time.

Also saddened by the lack of a team this year, McCrimmon described the service he has been able to provide to his players over the years.

“Being a coach, you’re not only just a coach,” he said. “You’re a teacher, you’re a parent, too, to them guys. You’re making sure that they get life skills.”

Stanislas said the 11 boys who came out to play this year were presented with options to continue playing football this fall.

“The other options would be for the eighth-graders to contact the athletic director at the high school, because per Virginia High School League, eighth-graders can play on junior varsity,” she said. “The sixth and seventh-graders could play with the Lightning.”

Thomas said, “We will, hopefully, be able to take the eighth-graders affected, and they can play JV.”