Alvin Adams and Sean McCoy will never confuse their lacrosse sticks with any others while on the field. The hand-made shafts have the boys’ names burned right into them.

Adams and McCoy, two out-going freshmen in Sentinel High School’s Life Skills Department, received custom lacrosse sticks as part of an end-of-the-school-year celebration Friday. Each student in the department, which serves those with cognitive or physical disabilities, earned a special gift during “graduation” for completing another year of school.

As the high school year dwindled down this week, para-educator Christian Bitterauf was trying to find activities to help keep his students busy over the summer. Along the active lines, some thought of football. Adams and McCoy expressed interest in lacrosse. They didn’t have much background in the game, but wanted to learn.

Bitterauf wanted to help.

He contacted University of Montana club lacrosse coach Tucker Sargent this week about finding equipment for the boys. Leftover gear would be fine, Bitterauf thought.

“I knew Tucker and happened to see him and mentioned kind of what I was doing,” said Bitterauf, who’s currently getting his master’s degree at UM in order to teach special education. “I figured he’d be a good guy to go to for some old, banged up sticks.”

Sargent wanted to do one better. He had recently begun manufacturing his own lacrosse sticks – under the small-business moniker Sargent Sticks – to sell around Missoula and at youth tournaments.

“I don’t have that much equipment, but I do have these shafts,” Sargent said.

To be completed, the boys’ sticks still need heads, the plastic or netted baskets at the end in which players carry the ball in lacrosse. But they’re the bulk of the way there – financially as well. Sargent’s products run anywhere from $25 to $150.

Bitterauf presented the sporting goods to his students Friday just before the final bell to dismiss students for the summer. Both boys are “very athletic and fast with good hand-eye coordination,” he added, and should take to the game quickly.

Adams said he’s excited to fill his summer hours with a new pastime. He’d played before, but never with a stick to call his own.

“You can throw to each other. It’s a team sport and you get to meet new friends. It’s just cool,” he said.

Reporter AJ Mazzolini can be reached at (406) 523-5298, at anthony.mazzolini@missoulian.com, @AJMazzolini or missoulapreps.com.

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