A team of their own

If everything goes according to plan, students at Gannon University can expect a new source of athletic entertainment to come in the form of a new club team on campus starting up in the spring.

Freshman and Erie native Dave DiPlacido has been working on starting a men’s club lacrosse team at Gannon since his arrival in August.

“I always knew I wanted to start a team here,” he said.

DiPlacido played lacrosse for Cathedral Prep before coming to Gannon, and is currently tied for the school record for most goals scored in a single season for the Ramblers. He also earned second team all-state honors as a senior.

He said that when he was selecting a college, he knew that Gannon didn’t have a team, but he wasn’t deterred.

However, it has been anything but easy getting the team off the ground, and nothing has been made official yet. DiPlacido has already jumped through numerous hoops required to get a club sport started, but there is still more work to be done.

He said that when he first decided he wanted to undertake the project, he went to Don Henry, the director of recreation at the Carneval Athletic Pavilion and head wrestling coach, with his idea.

“The first thing he said when I told him what I wanted to do was that I was going to need a lot of money for things like insurance,” he said. “That was fine with me.”

He said he immediately began contacting people he knew from high school lacrosse who he thought might be interested in helping him raise money. The first person he called was Henry Fish, a man who DiPlacido said started the first lacrosse team in Erie, the Spears. According to DiPlacido, Fish was willing to match whatever he raised on his own up to $1,000.

DiPlacido was able to raise the full $1,000 through donations from family and friends, and he said Fish made good on his word to match it. Although he said $2,000 is a good start, he hopes to continue fundraising to drive down the price for players to join the team.

“Right now we might be looking at about $800 per person, but we’re hoping to get it down to around $600.”

Junior Tom Rennie said he plans to be a part of the team and is excited to start having practices. Though he is also a member of the men’s soccer team, he said he will be able to balance both because of his passion for lacrosse.

“I love soccer, but I was also really looking forward to playing lacrosse,” he said. “I was originally going to play in college but the schools were all too close to home.”

Rennie is no stranger to the challenges that must be met to get a club sport organized and started. He had tried to get one started in 2010, but was unable to collect either enough players or enough funds.

“We didn’t have enough guys interested last year,” he said. “We only had like six or seven, but we started a Facebook page to gain interest. It’s a great way to connect.”

This year, DiPlacido said he hopes to have at least 20 players on the team and he and Rennie both welcome anyone who may be interested.

“If anyone wants to meet up and just throw a ball around sometime I would definitely be open to it,” Rennie said.

DiPlacido, who is going to be the president of the club, said that he has done a lot of work to get the team almost ready to be made an official club. He put together the necessary paperwork, including a constitution and bylaws, and also found an adviser for the club in Jack Sims, vice president of university advancement.

He said he has also been in contact with local schools that already have club teams, such as Penn State Behrend, Edinboro University and Slippery Rock University, but has not been able to put together a finalized schedule because he doesn’t want to ruin the schedules of other teams.

“If for any reason we don’t get the final approval, what would those teams do?” he said.

However, he said that he is confident that he will get the necessary approval from the Student Organizations and Leadership Development office and hopes to be on the field for official practices in the spring.

“Behrend actually wanted to scrimmage us on Nov. 11, but we won’t be ready by then,” he said. “But I’m hoping to get us six games in the spring.”

DiPlacido said he still needs to figure out where the team will hold home games. He said he hopes to get permission to play at the Gannon Field, but is unsure whether or not he can get approval with the heavy load of other spring sports that will need to use it.

“The coach at Prep told me if we really need a place to play we can probably use the field there,” he said.

DiPlacido’s brother and future secretary of the club, junior Bobby DiPlacido, said he commends his brother on all the hard work he has put in to get the club started.

“I’m really proud of him because I know he went into this not caring how much it would take or what he would have to do to get it started.

“He put everything he had into getting papers in before due dates and keeping on people to get what we needed. He did the near impossible and will soon be able to see what he did will really pay off.”


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