Two new sports will be introduced by the Kearny Recreation Department for the upcoming fall and spring seasons — lacrosse and volleyball.
Now that he has finally landed someone to instruct/coach girls in the sport, town Recreation Director Ralph Cattafi said he’s ready to start recruiting participants for the department’s first-ever lacrosse program.
Cattafi said he’s still seeking a male counterpart to teach/coach boys but if he can’t, he said he’ll ask his new staffer to handle both assignments.
His plan is to launch lacrosse in spring 2018 for grades 5 through 8 at Veteran’s Memorial Field along Belgrove Drive.
White lines were put down over a portion of the playing surface as a footprint for lacrosse back in March 2016 when the town made over the site with artificial turf and improved some of the playing spaces.
Cattafi has said he hopes to sign up, initially, 20 to 25 youngsters for the sport, which, he noted, is growing in popularity among the younger set.
He said he plans to start by offering instruction only and, after the youngsters gain enough confidence and skill in the game, expand to some level of competition.
He’s in the process of ordering equipment like lacrosse sticks, balls, helmets, gloves, shoulder and elbow pads and net.
Turns out Cattafi – who’d been searching all around New Jersey – didn’t have to go very far to turn up his new staffer. She’s right here in Kearny.
Laura Janousek, the new instructor/coach, has been a physical education teacher at Lincoln Middle School since September 2014.
She’s a graduate of Kean University, where she was a “dual student-athlete,” as a member of the field hockey team and the women’s lacrosse team.
The latter experience, she noted, led to an opportunity to demonstrate her ability to impart knowledge of the sport to novices.
“During my senior year at Kean,” Janousek explained, “I was asked by the athletic director of Nottingham High School, in Hamilton Township, to be the first head coach of the girls’ lacrosse program for that school district.”
She went on to coach the junior varsity team at Nottingham for one year – which, she said, was the first year of the program – and the varsity team for two years.
Janousek also coached the girls’ lacrosse team for one year at Community Middle School in West Windsor.
At Lincoln Middle School in Kearny, she has been teaching swimming.
“Lacrosse has always been a passion of mine since I attended Kean University,” Janousek said. “I am looking forward to sharing that passion with the girls in Kearny.”
Then there’s volleyball.
Cattafi said he’s aiming to start that program sometime around Thanksgiving, also with boys and girls in grades 6-8.
“I’ve got four people interested in helping run the program in one of our elementary schools that has adequate space and I’m still ordering equipment,” he said.
To spread the word among the kids, he’ll be sending fliers out to all of the district’s five elementary and one middle school inviting youngsters to sign up.
“We’ll probably start with two days a week after school or Saturday,” Cattafi said. “This season will be strictly instructional but I see it as leading to intra-school play, then maybe a travel team to play outside districts.”