Those who blaze new trails often don’t get to reap the long-term benefits of their creation.
Such may be the case Amesbury’s Noah White and Miles Franey.
The two Amesbury High seniors have spent most of their middle and high school careers pushing for the creation of a varsity boys’ lacrosse program at their school. Now that their dream is finally a reality, the Indians’ inaugural varsity season is in jeopardy as the coronavirus threat prompts the continued closure of schools and high school sports across the state.
As things stand, the season is still scheduled to begin on May 4, though that could change if Governor Charlie Baker extends his school closure order. In the meantime, all the Amesbury players can do is prepare as if they’re going to have their first varsity season, however unusual the circumstances may be.
But regardless of whether this year’s team gets to play, the ones who set the foundation for this program are still happy for the seasons to come.
“It’s really cool to know that the younger kids will get to play in this program that I helped build, because that’s really what it was about,” White said. “I didn’t think I was even going to get to have a varsity team this year, any of the years through high school, but I knew it would work up to a varsity team by the time younger kids got there.”
White and Franey — now in their third year as co-captains for the Indians — are far from the only people who made this happen, but they were certainly the ones leading the way.
As seventh graders, the pair started writing letters to Amesbury athletic director Glen Gearin and attending committee meetings to get the ball rolling.
They played their freshman season as part of a co-op with Triton, went all the way to the Division 3 North semifinals, and were offered the chance to return to the co-op the next year. But with the Amesbury program coming into shape, the two decided to forego their chance at more varsity contention, spending the next two seasons on the Indians’ new JV team to ensure their school would have the numbers to keep building.
“We had the future of the program in mind,” Franey said. “We knew that if it was ever gonna happen, it was gonna have to start with us, so that the kids that are in youth now, they would have a varsity team by the time they got up to high school. We just kind of felt that it was our job to bring this to the community.”
Should the season take place, Franey will be the one leading the attack. Despite playing most of his high school career at the JV level, his talent was good enough to catch the eye of college programs, and he has committed to play for Plymouth State University next spring.
“I had to work really hard, but the (Plymouth State) coaches understand the situation that I was in, and I was able to impress them when I played for them (in tryouts),” said Franey, who scored 32 goals for the Indians’ JV squad last season.
Joining Franey at the collegiate level next year will be midfielder Cam Corneau, who has committed to play for Anna Maria College. Corneau was a member of Amesbury Youth Lacrosse’s first seventh/eighth grade team, and is another member of the Indians’ 13-player senior class.
White joins Corneau in the midfield, along with soccer players Leif Riley and Kenny Bailey, who bring great speed along with their developing stick skills.
The defense is anchored by Amesbury’s third co-captain, Andrew Courtemanche, as well as players like Breaden Zellen and Lincoln Berounskey-Kelly.
“It’s definitely exciting,” White said. “I think (the first varsity season) comes at a good year for our team, because most of the kids, this will be their third year, so we have a lot of talent and could be competitive, so I think it’s going to be an exciting season.”
The large class of veterans has lit a spark of growth for the program that is apparent from the top down. The varsity roster has nearly doubled this year to a size of 30 players, and the Amesbury youth program has evolved from a one-team program back when Corneau played for them to six teams today.
Veteran players like Franey and White have even helped out with the youth practices over the years, taking advantage of a timeline where high school practices end at 5 p.m. and youth practices start at 5:30.
Among the youngsters is White’s younger brother, Max White, who now gets to grow through a proper youth program and into the varsity program his brother helped build.
“In the seventh and eighth grade teams, those are the kids that started playing when they were in like third or fourth grade,” Noah White said. “I think the team can only get better as the kids playing on it have played for more years and developed their skills further.”
While the state of this year’s season may be in doubt, the future of Amesbury lacrosse looks bright.
And even if they never get to play a minute of varsity lacrosse, White, Franey and the rest of their teammates have undoubtedly left a lasting mark on this program.
“They weren’t just in it for them,” said Amesbury coach George White, Noah and Max’s father. “They just gave so much to both the high school program and to the youth program that it’s been incredible to watch them.”