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Friday, March 6, 2015: Two schools refusing to play Lancaster in lacrosse

   Leading off today: Two Western New York school districts have called off lacrosse games against Lancaster in opposition to its Redskins nickname and mascot, The Buffalo News reported Friday.

   Akron announced Friday morning that it is canceling its non-league game with Lancaster on March 31. Lake Shore followed later in the day by canceling both its boys and girls varsity and JV lacrosse games with Lancaster.

   Approximately 11 percent of Akron students and 15 percent of those in the Lake Shore district identify as Native Americans. The Akron school campus is near the Tonawanda Creek Reservation, home to the Tonawanda Band of Senecas.

   "It was an easy decision for us," Lake Shore Superintendent James Przepasniak told the paper. "We feel this action is in support of the Native American community."

   When news of Akron's decision emerged, a Native American student on the girls lacrosse team at Lake Shore approached AD Daryl Besant about canceling its games with Lancaster. Besant took the issue to the superintendent, who conferred with the school board president.

   The Lancaster school district released a statement Friday following the Akron and Lake Shore decisions.

   "Lancaster Central School District certainly respects the diverse views of others. Specifically, students in a neighboring school district who have decided to take a stand against a mascot they, themselves, find to be offensive and derogatory in nature," Superintendent Michael J. Vallely said in the statement. "We have every confidence in the curriculum department, faculty, and student leadership that, as we continue this process of educating ourselves on the other connotations of the term Redskin and build a context for understanding conflicting points of view, the students will have a wider lens with which to view the issue.

   "I hope the Native American community understands that while the mascot is still in place at Lancaster High School, we have worked diligently to treat it with respect and honor, removing any stereotypical behaviors and images, and I would implore their patience and understanding as we continue to educate our students and our community."

   Opinion: Since Lancaster administrators have already said that the definitive decision on the Redskins nickname and mascot will not be handed down in the near future, I suspect that we could be looking at more forfeits by opponents this spring.

   Whether the decisions to forfeit are the result of a principled stand or out of some sort of peer pressure is really of no consequence. In fact, the decisions by Akron and Lake Shore to not play really have minimal impact since those were going to be non-league games against an opponent in a different sectional classification.

   Where the rubber is going to meet the road is when phone calls and emails start reaching the superintendent's offices as Clarence, Frontier, Lockport and Orchard Park (beginning in 5 ... 4 ... 3 ... ) inquiring whether they will also forfeit games. Like Lancaster, those schools play in Section 6's Class A division in the postseason.

   Just for the sake of argument, let's say some of the Class A teams start forfeiting games during the regular season.


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  • There could be implications for regular-season standings and playoff seedings but, again, the impact wouldn't be enormous ... until sectionals begin.

       If you forfeit during the regular season as a protest against the use of the Redskins nickname and mascot, wouldn't you also have to forfeit in the playoffs if you find yourself matched up against Lancaster? The problem, obviously, is that you forfeit a playoff game and your season is over.

       If those superintendents at Clarence, Frontier, Lockport and Orchard Park think the phone calls and emails in the next few weeks are bad, it's going to be far worse in mid-May when there are sectional trophies and berths in the state tournament on the line.

       If you want to stand on principle now, that's fine and I laud you. But pulling a 180 in the postseason in order to keep your own season alive isn't going to cut it. So choose wisely.

       Change coming to Brooklyn: Xaverian High School in Brooklyn is going co-ed.

       "We are excited to implement the next phase of our long-range strategic plan to become an even stronger school," school President Robert B. Alesi said in a statement. "Over the last five years, we have strengthened our admissions requirements, enhanced our academic offerings and expanded our curricular and extracurricular programs. Today, we are excited to announce that as part of the next phase, we will offer a co-educational high school program, beginning with the incoming freshman class in September of 2016."

       The middle school at Xaverian is already co-ed.

       Extra points: Mike Kemp has been selected to coach the York/Pavilion football program. Kemp, 60, has been coaching football at various levels for 30 years, including stints as head coach at Plymouth State (1996-99) and Utica College (2000-08).

       Most recently he was an assistant at Holley from 2011-13 and Elba/Byron-Bergen last fall. He replaces Eric Amorese, who went 28-27 in seven seasons.

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