MORGANTOWN — Since its inception, Mylan Park in has been at the forefront of helping to develop sports and recreation opportunities in the Morgantown area. Notable for its contributions to baseball and soccer, the complex is making way for another sport — lacrosse.
Lacrosse has become a prominent fixture in high schools across north-central West Virginia, and now Mylan Park is committed to help further grow the sport in the region.
On Saturday, at the conclusion of a week-long camp for middle school and high school players, the park hosted its inaugural lacrosse tournament, as four squads — two from from Morgantown High and one each from University and Fairmont Senior — battled in an all-day affair to determine regional superiority.
“One of our things that we’re trying to do at Mylan Park is providing more opportunities for the local community to get involved in more athletic events,” said Donnie Platt, coordinator of Competitive Sport, Recreation and Camps at Mylan Park. “Lacrosse is such a unique sport, but for state-wide tournaments and clinics in this state you have to travel. To do this in Morgantown provides a chance for this community to do what they’re already doing, but with less travel.”
The four teams opened with pool play to determine tournament seeding for the final bracket. Fairmont Senior emerged as the top seed, drawing UHS in one semifinal while the two MHS squads (White and Blue) battled in another.
MHS White and Fairmont Senior advanced to the final, where MHS White secured a 15-8 victory to be crowned champion. UHS nabbed a win against MHS Blue to finish third.
Platt said a lacrosse tournament was one of the first projects he began work on after taking the position at Mylan Park, in April,
“One of the first calls I made was to Thomas Moore — he’s a big lacrosse guy both in Morgantown and internationally. We got to talking and a tournament came to mind,” he said. “I’m a big baseball guy, and tournaments are a big thing in baseball. So I had the tournament experience and he had the lacrosse experience, and we got together and said let’s do it. It all came together in about six weeks — really, about May is when we got everything started.”
Moore, a long-time coach at MHS and for the WVU women’s club, serves as the executive director for New Jersey-based Soft Lacrosse, an organization he describes as dedicated to “fighting childhood poverty, hunger and obesity, all using lacrosse as a vehicle.”
“One of the background reasons of soft lacrosse is growing participation in the sport as early as pre-K and kindergarten. You have flag football and tee-ball for other sports — we want to grow that early development for our sport as well,” Moore said. “It’s beneficial to the development of these young athletes, and getting them involved with the sports.”
Moore brought Soft Lacrosse to the mountains of West Virginia, and hopes to work with Platt to establish it at Mylan Park — along with other lacrosse-centric events.
“Mylan Park has recently come to the forefront in the area with their facilities and support, so we hope to hold everything out there with soft lacrosse up through fifth grade, and do camps, clinics, leagues and the like,” Moore said. “Mylan Park is really trying to support lacrosse in north -central West Virginia.”
Platt described the focus on lacrosse at Mylan Park as an investment for Morgantown. Moore — who spent time as a coach with the Turkish national team during the 2014 World Lacrosse Championships – shared a similar sentiment.
“Growing up here, there wasn’t much lacrosse. I didn’t get many opportunities with the sport until later in life. Now, it’s taken me all over the world,” he said. “With lacrosse growing across this country — the rate it is growing is absolutely amazing — we want West Virginia to be at the forefront of that. These kids deserve that opportunity as well. The only way to do that is to get better at a younger age.”
Mylan Park has established itself as the de facto center of baseball in Monongalia County — hosting both MHS and UHS baseball and softball as well as Morgantown Post 2 Legion baseball in the summers.
Platt hopes he can do the same with lacrosse.
“Really, we have some big aspirations. One of the big phrases Thomas and I started bouncing around is that Mylan Park could be the home of lacrosse in Morgantown,” he said. “We would like to play high school games there, we would like to have a league. We’ll be hosting more clinics, and we’d like to do an all-girls clinic. We’d like to bring in a pro lacrosse player. Really, the sky is the limit for us.”