Stratford will begin playing varsity lacrosse during the 2015-16 school year.
The school will sponsor a team in the Macon Youth Lacrosse League this upcoming spring, and the foundation of that team will become the high schools program. The Eagles will compete at the junior varsity level in 2014-15 and at the varsity level a year later in the GHSA, according to a news release.
Stratford has hired Josh Pico to start the program. Pico won a national championship while playing at Johns Hopkins and has worked with the Mercer lacrosse program and with the Macon Youth Lacrosse League.
Stratford is the first Middle Georgia school to officially announce the addition of varsity lacrosse.
Stratford headmaster Bob Veto said the youth league teams will be co-ed. He said the school would add both boys and girls varsity teams if the interest level was high enough.
Lacrosse is played in the spring, which is already the busiest time for prep sports. Stratford fields teams in boys and girls soccer, boys and girls track and field, boys and girls tennis, golf and baseball in the spring. The Eagles have benefitted from cross-sport play in the GISA, with students participating in two sports in the spring. The GISA coordinated its track and field championships with soccer to allow athletes to participate in both.
Veto said there was enough interest from the student body to warrant adding another spring sport despite a crowded sports season. Pico will meet with parents Nov. 14 to discuss the future of the program.
Stratford will have to travel to metro Atlanta for most of its games when varsity play begins, although they might have a chance to play a rival close by. FPD is poised to add the sport, as well.
The Vikings offered a fall lacrosse season for middle school students after fielding a club team in the Macon Youth Lacrosse League. The school hopes to turn the youth participation into a junior varsity team in 2014-15, according to the FPD athletics website, which would put the school on the same trajectory as Stratford toward varsity lacrosse.
FPD athletics director Greg Moore recently said lacrosse would fit into FPDs overall athletics program in the near future.