The Butte Blizzard is a great name.
That is what the local high school lacrosse club changed its moniker to for this season, which is the club’s fourth.
The name does pose a few problems for headline writers because it is hard to remember if Blizzard should be referred to as “it” or “them.” It is still an awesome name.
The name is also fitting, since the first game the Butte played under the handle was on a snow-packed Dahlberg Field at West Elementary School. The temperature at the start of the game was 18 degrees.
The game wasn’t played in an actual blizzard, but it certainly in the aftermath of one. The Great Falls Fury also felt the effects of the Blizzard in more ways than one in that 6-4 loss.
The only other names that could be better for lacrosse players to compete under in the Mining City are the Butte High Bulldogs and the Butte Central Maroons.
The Blizzard are made up of players from Butte High, Butte Central and the Alternative School. Players from Anaconda are also under the jurisdiction of the Blizzard according to the Montana High School Lacrosse Association, though the team currently has no Copperheads.
You have to kind of like the idea of Butte and Anaconda players competing on the same side in a hard-hitting sport like lacrosse.
What would be even better, though, would be Butte playing against Anaconda.
Someday, that will definitely happen. The day is coming — though it could be many years away — when we will see lacrosse as a high school sanctioned sport in Montana. It’s just a matter of time.
Lacrosse isn’t the fastest growing sport in America. That distinction has belonged to soccer since 1937.
It is growing fast, though. The fact that lacrosse has reached Montana is proof of that.
When I was a kid, we had no idea what lacrosse even was. We just knew we never wanted to play a sport with a name like lacrosse. It seemed like if fell somewhere between badminton and tiddlywinks on the scale of manliness.
The first lacrosse game I ever watched was the one when Chris “Oz” Ostreicher left early to sing with Heather on “American Pie” in 1999.
As it turned out, we were really missing out by the lack of lacrosse. The sport sure looks like it is a blast to play.
Lacrosse is like a combination of sports. It is a little bit hockey, a little bit basketball, a little bit soccer and, maybe, a little bit football.
Currently, the team plays at Dahlberg Field, where the growing crowd has no place to sit.
It would be cool to see the Blizzard host a few games at Bulldog Memorial Stadium or even Naranche Stadium. That way the team could host a tournament — maybe even the state tournament — and bring a ton of money into the local economy.
We have two of the best high school stadiums in town. The Blizzard playing lacrosse in one of them just might help justify that infrastructure expenditure to the taxpayers.
It will be even cooler to see one of those stadiums full of fans when the sport is a sanctioned Montana High School Association sport.
The way the sport is growing, it is going to force such a move someday.
I know right now there are some local track coaches reading this and saying, “Hey, ixnay on the acrosselay.”
After all, it is an uphill fight to get kids to go out for the sports we already have. So many would rather sit at home and play their PlayStation or Nintendo.
I’m sure Butte coaches were saying that about softball when the push was made to bring that sports to the high schools in the late 1980s. Then, Butte High went out and won a state title in its second year of existence, silencing the critics forever.
Look at all the Montana athletes who went on to play college soccer after football coaches objected to adding that sport.
The more opportunities for the high school athletes the better, and lots of colleges give scholarship money to lacrosse players.
If I was a football coach, I’d want my players to play lacrosse, too, if they weren’t playing another spring sport. The same goes for basketball and baseball. The crossover skills of lacrosse can help a players’ development in so many sports.
Hunter Carroll decided go out for the first lacrosse team as a senior at Butte High three years ago, when the sport was first introduced to the Butte boys. He says he wishes that he had the chance to do it four years ago because it would have made him a better football player.
Now 20, Carroll is the head coach of the Blizzard, and he’d like to see more boys jump at the opportunities the sports presents.
We already have a Butte guy in Nick Ossello playing in Major League Lacrosse for the Denver Outlaws.
OK, so Ossello technically is not from Butte. But his parents, Steve and Lynnea are. So are his grandparents and many, many cousins.
Nick grew up in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, where he starred in football and lacrosse. He went on to play lacrosse at Notre Dame and helped lead the Irish to the final four.
He also played a year of football for the Irish.
If his parents would have stayed in Butte, Nick might not have even heard of lacrosse. Now he’s playing in the big time.
Nick’s younger sister Gianna was also a lacrosse star. She played for Duke, but we won’t hold that against her today.
Wouldn’t it be nice to see more Butte athletes get the opportunity the Ossello kids had?
The Blizzard roster currently stands at 14 or 15 players, and I know we can make that a lot bigger in the coming years. We can even make that better this year because the team will still accept new players, even though there are only two games left in the regular season.
Players of all shapes and sizes can play the sport, too.
Take your sons and daughters to the final two home games the next two Thursday nights at Dahlberg Field and let them see for themselves.
Right now, as much it is trying to win lacrosse games, the Blizzard are trying to help the sport grow. Recently they got a big boost from Bill Belichick. Yes, that one.
The New England Patriots coach took a break from blowing up planets from his Death Star to award the Blizzard a Bill Belichick Foundation Spring Lacrosse Equipment Grant.
That grant will give the Blizzard 25 player sets, which includes costly helmets, pads and sticks.
That will help keep the cost down for players wanting to try the sport next year. It will help make sure the Blizzard are here to stay for the long hall.
Well, they will be here at least until the Bulldogs and Maroons start playing lacrosse.
— Bill Foley, who still can’t believe Oz left that game, writes a column that appears Tuesdays on ButteSports.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/Foles74