North Pocono boys and girls are champing at the bit for a brand new varsity sport.

COVINGTON TWP. — North Pocono has officially embarked on an exciting new athletic adventure and the community already seems to be embracing it.

Nearly 100 people turned up last week to attend an informational meeting on high school lacrosse, a brand new program slated to start in the spring.

Robert Lamanna, North Pocono's first-ever varsity lacrosse coach, oversaw the proceedings.

Front & Center

A lifelong devotee of the sport, Lamanna played at the varsity level in high school and intramurally in college.

He is a graduate of Farleigh Dickinson College and a veteran of 10 years service in the United States Navy.

Since arriving on the scene with his family in 1997, Lamanna has been an active member of the local athletic community. He's coached Little League baseball, youth basketball and soccer and also worked hard to introduce his favorite sport.

"I've seen the good, the bad and the ugly since I came here and I truly believe there's a tremendous amount of potential for North Pocono to embrace lacrosse," he said.

Judging from the enthusiastic response he's received thus far, Lamanna may just be right. Ninety-five student/athletes attended the first informational meeting and nearly as many turned out for the second.

"I'm very encouraged," he said after giving an hourlong Power Point presentation. "I definitely think the interest is here and I'm willing to work hard to help establish lacrosse as a viable sport at North Pocono."

Lamanna won't be alone in this endeavor. The Trojans have already named an assistant coach: Robert Deremer.

A veteran of seven years teaching at North Pocono High School, Deremer is a graduate of North Carolina State University. He played two year of intramural lacrosse in college before moving on to the coaching ranks.

Deremer did a football internship at NC State, then took his talents to Green Hope High School. He has also mentored at Apex High School (NC), Abington Heights and North Pocono.

Lamanna is excited to have Deremer on board, both for his lacrosse expertise and for leadership skills accrued from 10 years service in the United States Army.

"Bob is a great guy and I'm so happy to have him be a part of this," Lamanna said. "He's going to play a crucial role in developing North Pocono's lacrosse program in the next several years."

A Bit of History

Over the years, lacrosse has earned a reputation as "the fastest game on two feet."

The sport is firmly rooted in Native American ritual and religion. In fact, games were often held between tribes to resolve conflicts or prepare for war.

Lacrosse has seen slow and steady growth on USA college and high school campuses since the 1930s.

The game hold an unique appeal for young men and women in that it stresses agility, speed, endurance and hand-eye coordination.

Lamanna believes that lacrosse's popularity is on the upswing largely due to one overriding factor: it is nearly all-inclusive.

"The beauty of the sport is that just about any kid can play," he said. "You don't have to be the biggest, fastest or strongest to play lacrosse. All you need is a stick, a ball and the desire to work hard."

Numbers provided by the US Lacrosse appear to bear out Lamanna's claims.

Over the course of the past decade, participation in the sport has grown 10 percent each year. Back in 2001, there were just over 250,000 active players in the country. As of 2011, that figure had jumped to more than 684,000.

The most encouraging of those numbers comes in the "youth" category where US Lacrosse reports 361,275 players registered in its 64 regional chapters.

"Lacrosse has a place for athletes of all shapes and sizes," Lamanna said. "It also teaches the qualities of fair play and sportsmanship. Its core values are: play hard, play for love of the game, play hard and fair while nurturing the soul."

The Local Scene

US Lacrosse is playing a critical role in helping to establish North Pocono lacrosse.

The organization has already bestowed the "First Stick Award" on the fledgling program. This prestigious grant will provide training for coaches, equipment and all kinds of perks for at least the first two years.

"This was a huge coup for us," Lamanna said. "I can't tell you how excited I am to receive the First Stick Award from US Lacrosse."

The general public seems to share that enthusiasm.

To date, 74 boys and 18 girls have signed up to be part of the program. These student/athletes will compete for 35 roster spots on the very first Trojans team, which is co-ed.

Once the program is firmly established, the development of separate boys and girls teams is a genuine possibility.

As it stands now, North Pocono has been accepted into District Two of the PIAA. There, the Trpjans will compete against the likes of Delaware Valley, Scranton Prep, Crestwood, Lake Lehman, Dallas and Tunkhannock.

The first official day of practice for this spring sport is set for March 4.

Opening Day of the 2013 high school lacrosse season is tentatively scheduled for April 3. This will be a gome game against DV.

There are 12 games on the regular season slate, followed by the District Two tournament, which runs from May 17-25.