■ BY SUE ERWIN
Two gentlemen on the island are searching for individuals interested in getting together to play casual games of lacrosse. Men, women and children of any age are welcome to play.
Larry DeFrance and Dan Sandford both played the sport years ago and recently have become interested in playing again. “I really missed it, just being able to grab a stick and get out there and toss the ball around. You get hooked on it,” Sandford said.
Together, the men share decades of collegiate and professional experience. They met through a mutual friend on the island and decided to start putting together a roster of interested parties. Sandford has been playing since he was a teenager. His high school in Toronto didn’t have a formal team, so the community formed local teams for kids. He played what is called “box lacrosse,” which is played in an arena. The game itself has similar rules to basketball, Sandford said. Later, Sandford was recruited to play in a professional league, and his team would travel throughout Canada for the competitions. “We had east and west coast championship games, so we would either play in Vancouver or Toronto for the Canadian championships,” Sandford said. DeFrance grew up in Long Island and played lacrosse for Notre Dame and in graduate school at Columbia University. He has coached a high school team in Nashville for the past 20 years. The team’s motto was “Start young, play forever.” “I’ve been a spectator of the sport for many years, but coaching it really got me thinking about playing again,” DeFrance said.
They are open to just holding regular practices or to forming a league, depending on the level of interest in the community. So far, 15 people have contacted them who are interested in setting up a game. “We already have a team name: The Boca Grande Manatees. We’re slow and old, but we still like to play,” Sandford joked. Both men are also interested in coaching. “I was told there was a youth team in Englewood that no longer exists. We’d like to share our experience and teach this great game to the next generation. It’s up to us to keep it going,” Sandford said. They have received several calls so far from parents on the island inquiring about putting together a youth team.
“We can play on any terrain. We can throw the ball around on the beach or in any park. If these kids want to play, we’ll be happy to work with them,” Sandford said. Although it’s known to be a contact sport, DeFrance and Sandford said the level of play doesn’t need to be overly competitive. They just want to gather people together to have a little bit of fun and get some exercise. Even if you haven’t played before but hsve sparked a recent interest in the game, you are encouraged and welcome to come and learn about the sport. Contact Dan Sandford at 964-2701 or Larry DeFrance at 855-9292 for details on how to get involved. You can also send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.