Reflection prevalent within LHS teams

Coaches, squads prepare for one-year anniversary on Sept. 11

By: Steve Feitl
   Whether it be ceremonies, vigils or concerts, most people throughout the country will take time next Wednesday to reflect on the terrorist attacks on the United States one year ago.
   Area high school athletic teams are no exception, though their methods may vary.
   One thing no team will take part in is a formal game.
   With the start of the regular season delayed this year until next Friday, Sept. 13, there will be no official Colonial Valley Conference athletic events on Sept. 11.
   According to Lawrence High School athletic director Ken Mason, who is in his second year as president of the CVC, the conference even went ahead and moved scheduled tennis games off of the anniversary date.
   "It was a master date on our tennis schedules, but we met in June and recommended that we stay off that date," Mason said. "We just felt it would be a good move to stay off that date in terms of formal competition."
   Mason said the conference then left it up to the individual athletic departments to schedule practices and scrimmages on the anniversary. Lawrence’s only scheduled scrimmages will take place on the soccer fields, with the boys hosting Rancocas Valley and the girls traveling there.
   Field hockey coach Lauren Fares is grateful that her team will only be practicing on Sept. 11.
   "It’s going to be a difficult day for all of us," Fares said. "It’s a lot better to have the girls in a more relaxed setting. It will be on the back of all our minds."
   Counseling is expected to be a large part of the school administration’s process in helping kids deal with the one-year anniversary of the tragedy.
   It’s been an all-too-frequent occurrence at LHS recently. Several local teenagers, including one LHS student, have been killed as a result of automobile accidents. The guidance department has been working with the kids throughout the past several weeks to help in the grieving process.
   "The head of our guidance has set up some good sessions with our coaches and kids," Mason said. "I think that has brought out some good stuff. They’ll probably continue some of those same services during the period surrounding Sept. 11 and that should help."
   The coaches themselves will take on a similar role as they did a year ago when the attacks first took place.
   All practices and games were canceled for that Tuesday, but the effects were still being felt the next day when the athletes returned to the fields.
   "I remember last year, the kids took it real hard," head football coach Rob Radice said. "You saw a good deal of uncertainty in their eyes. That kind of subsided as the year went on, but clearly they still think about it."
   Fares agreed.
   "When we came back to practice the next day, the girls were very quiet," she said. "I think they know they can always come talk to me about anything, but I try not to pry anything from them.
   "These girls are very open and I’m sure we’re going to talk about it."
   With ceremonies planned at all the Lawrence schools during the school day, Mason said there were no formal plans for the athletic teams. He said the coaches will decide how they’d like to handle the event on an individual basis.
   He had no doubt, however, that the coaches would be there for the athletes.
   "Our coaches have been really good about taking time out of practices to talk about life and other things that happen outside the game," Mason said.
   Radice said his staff would play it by ear during practice this Wednesday. If the team, which is once again wearing the American flag on the back of their helmets, wants to talk about it during practice, the coaches will follow suit.
   At the end of the day, however, Radice plans to reiterate an important message to his squad of young athletes.
   "We’ll mention to them how fortunate we are to be out here," Radice said. "We’ll remind them we are a part of America and how lucky we are to be able to do things like play football."
   Fares said she expects the field hockey team will take a few moments during practice for reflection.
   Overall, however, she’s happy her team will be out on the field during the difficult day.
   "I think some kids thrive on routine," Fares said. "Sometimes sticking to the normal schedule actually helps them get through a rough time."