LACROSSE AT GMVS – FACT 37 OF 50
While GMVS is focused on ski racing as the primary student pursuit, the school has had a girls’ lacrosse program since 1992 and a boys’ lacrosse program since 1993. Both programs have managed to achieve impressive success on the field, but the real value of lacrosse at GMVS is found not in the wins and losses column, but in the opportunity to work towards a collective goal with other like minded, passionate people. The timing of the lacrosse season is another piece of the magic, coming on the heels of a long winter season focused on racing as an individual. Being able to close out the year competing in collaborative effort, both pushing and, even more importantly, supporting each other, always brings students together, and the athletes bring the best out in each other. The mix of ages, ability and experience also add to the unique quality of lacrosse at GMVS, as the game bridges the gaps that might exist at other points in the year.
In addition to the role that lacrosse plays in bringing students together, there have been notable successes. Both the boys and girls programs have won state championships at the Division II level, and a number of players have gone on to play collegiately, despite logging far fewer hours on a lacrosse field than their future college teammates.
Thanks to GMVS alumna Sarah Billmeier’s passion for team sports and her vision for the future, GMVS started a girls’ lacrosse team. A perfect spring sport that brings the girls together after the rigors of ski season and the individual focus it requires. Sarah played lacrosse in her hometown and wanted to continue at GMVS. She found a program that provided a whole team worth of girls’ sticks for a minimal fee and approached Dave Gavett, Head of School at the time. He agreed and eventually found a coach and, as they say, the rest is history!
With multiple coaches throughout the years who have kept the program going strong, Head Coaches Lauren Ayotte and Bowen Holden are the two most recent who have celebrated big by leading the program to State Championship wins in 2017 (Lauren) and 2021 (Bowen). The team also finished as runners-up in 2018. GMVS has also produced two All-American lacrosse players: Emma Austin ’20 and Erika Wiebe ’21. Emma has since gone on to play lacrosse at Bates College.
The boys’ lacrosse team has also experienced success in the Vermont state playoffs, making it to the Division II championship game in 2011, 2012 and 2014. The boys followed up a heartbreaking one goal loss to Rice (8-7) in the 2011 state championship game with a stunning last second goal in the 2012 state championship game against Colchester High School that pushed the game into overtime, where the Gumbies won with a beautiful transition goal. “What has stuck with me from that game is the way the GMVS players on that team simply refused to give up,” says long time coach Sam Jackson. The team fought hard in another one-goal loss in the championship game in 2014, and then, after divisional realignments in 2020, made it to the Division III championship game in 2021. Notable alumni who have gone on to play at the collegiate level include Dan Bell ‘11 (Bates College), Hans Halvorsen ‘12 (Williams College), Neil Gallagher ‘14 (St. Michael’s College), Justin Boes ‘17 (Connecticut College), Raymo Blancato ‘19 (Hope College), and Jonathan Davis ‘21 (Colby College).
A final key element of the GMVS lacrosse programs is the way that the sense of community and bonding experienced by the players also goes beyond the field. Lacrosse games have become one of those rituals of the spring; as other students, the staff, and friends and family assemble on the sidelines on a sunny spring day to watch the teams compete, the entire campus seems to revolve around the field. Like the unique light of an evening in late May, or the specific shade of the leaves on the trees, lacrosse is a harbinger of spring, and its power to renew, on Moulton Road.