Not “Mohawks” or “Blackhawks,” Just “Hawks”

Christopher Tremblay, Staff Sports Writer
Millis Begins LAX Co-Op with Bellingham
A new Bellingham-Millis coop lacrosse team, the Hawks, will give new Millis players a chance to play and existing Bellingham players a chance to be competitive. Shown are the new uniforms Bellingham Coach Steve Linehan has ordered for the team.
Issue Date: 
April, 2018
Article Body: 

As the spring high school season gets underway, Millis will be venturing into new territory as the Mohawks will take to the lacrosse field for the first time. Millis will be joining forces with Tri-Valley League foe Bellingham as one team this upcoming spring.
“We’ve had interest in the past, but just no one to pair up with,” Millis Athletic Director Chuck Grant said. “That is, until Mike (Connor, Bellingham Athletic Director) asked me if we were still interested in fielding a boy’s lacrosse team.”
Grant jumped at the chance, and originally, seven male lacrosse athletes showed interest in joining the Bellingham team, which has had a team for the past seven years, but didn’t have enough athletes to be a threat in the TVL.
“We were four or five varsity athletes away from being competitive,” Connor said. “We had the program in place already but we couldn’t compete on a high level with the likes of Medfield and Dover-Sherborn.”
Although the town of Bellingham established a youth lacrosse program five or six years earlier, they were still not reaping the benefits on the high school level. Last spring, the boy’s lacrosse team went a dismal 1-18, but coaches are hoping that, with the youth program and the Millis additions, the squad should make a drastic improvement when it comes to wins this year.
“In the past, we never had a youth program that we could draw athletes from, but those athletes are starting to arrive on the high school level now and with experience,” second-year Bellingham Coach Steve Linehan said. “The four kids from Millis should definitely help, as they all have youth experience; it won’t be kids picking up the stick for the very first time. That has been our challenge the last six or seven years – kids were joining the team having never played lacrosse prior to entering high school.”
At the time of this writing, four of the seven original athletes from Millis who showed interest had signed up and were ready to take to the field. Those who have committed to playing for Bellingham-Millis are senior goalie Colin Burgess, junior Steve Balboni and junior Jon Skelly and senior Ben Adams at midfield / attack.
“All of these kids have gone through the Medway youth organization and were rather disappointed when they arrived at the high school and there was nowhere for them to play,” Grant said.
Connor likes the fact that the Millis add-ons all will bring lacrosse experience to the table.
“With the four Millis athletes signed up and ready to go we should be able to compete against most of the TVL teams,” Connor said. “Win, lose or draw, this year’s team is going to feel much better about themselves if they are able to compete instead of getting blown out.”
While Linehan is looking for improvement, he’s not looking to be able to compete with the TVL elite overnight. The coach is looking to build a program where the athletes can be competitive and have the opportunity to do so.
“Since taking over, I wanted to install two goals. First develop a positive attitude for the game while competing on a higher level. A lot of the kids were not taught how to play the game the right way,” Linehan said. “And secondly, increase our numbers. Last year we had 20 athletes, and this year we are looking at 36 so far registered and signed up to play, including the four from Millis.”
The MIAA granted a one year co-op to Bellingham-Millis and will see how things go before re-upping the two schools’ dual lacrosse program, but Connor firmly believes that it’s going to work and work for a long time.
“I am very optimistic in this and in it for the long term,” the Bellingham AD said. “I actually went out and ordered new uniforms that just say Hawks on them; no Blackhawks or Mohawks, just Hawks. It will give us continuity with the two schools as one team.”
Coming into the season as one, Linehan is ultimately looking for the team to post more wins than they have in the past few years, while putting together a season that will allow them to think about qualifying for the tournament down the road.
Bellingham-Millis opened the season on March 29 with a contest against Norwood, a team that will be moving to the TVL come next fall.