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Roger Marolt: Roger This

Roger MaroltThe Aspen TimesAspen CO Colorado

The other day I watched about 10 teenagers in the alley outside my office window smoking pot like the stuff was on the verge of being outlawed. The cops showed up and the kids actually holding the dope split faster than Congress when changing the discussion from reaching across party lines to the national budget. The remainder stood by dutifully as the police officers searched their backpacks and, of course, found nothing. None of the kids appeared to be worried in the least. They smiled and made light-hearted small talk with the officers and wondered how long this was going to take because they were starving. This wasn’t their first time around the block and into Aspen’s alleyways.You can make an argument that kids scramming from the authorities with pockets full of grass are staying in shape. The ones rolling the joints had to concentrate intensely in the finger-numbing cold. The kids were outdoors having a good time. And, as some claim, pot is not addictive and safer than booze, so what’s the harm in 15-year-olds lighting up in our filthy alleys to fulfill their daily recreational needs? However, watching these future WMDs (Weed-heads for More Dispensaries) at play made me think that we have to find a way to keep girls lacrosse a viable sport at Aspen High School.It’s not a given, you know, and this is an important bit of information for parents of school girls of all ages. The program started last year under the condition that the community financially supports 100 percent of its operations for the first two years before the cost becomes part of the regular school budget. Last year $19,000 was raised and that is why we are still talking about the program today. This is the second year of the trial period, and we have not raised anywhere near $19,000 to fund the season that is now upon us. This means the program is in danger of going away … for a long time to come.I bet that many of you with younger girls in the middle and elementary schools and even Mare’s Playgroup can easily dismiss this as a crisis by saying something like, “Oh, well. I have a long time before my child is looking for healthy high school activities to keep them happily busy, off the streets after school, and give them something to put on their college applications.” But, this is not the case.If we lose the program now, what are the chances of getting it back anytime in the next couple of decades? Imagine the conversation with school officials when you want your girl to have a lacrosse team in, say, seven or eight years:Enthusiastic high school lacrosse parent of the future: “We have lots of girls that love lacrosse and it absolutely should be a high school sport. We have great coaches. We have talented athletes. We have enthusiastic fans and great parental involvement. This community will support this program. Aspen is a lacrosse town!”Athletic director with a good memory and bad budget problems: “That’s what they said last time.”And, I made this example conversation a little longer than the actual one will be for the sake of color. So you see, if it doesn’t work now, it might be a very, very long time before it will be given a chance to work again. In the meantime the WMDs will be recruiting young talent.I know you want to help, but don’t know how. Well, you can always write a big check and that will certainly help. Just make it out to Aspen High School, write “Aspen Girls Lacrosse Forever” on the memo line, and send it in. Thank you in advance for your generosity. If, on the other hand, you like eating hamburgers and playing bingo with a great view of downtown, then show up at the Aspen Elks Lodge at 510 E. Hyman Ave., third floor, tomorrow evening. Dinner is from 6 to 7 followed by bingo from 7 to 9. There will be prizes and, I think, a silent auction. Who knows? What is certain is that it will not be potluck and it will be really fun anyway.In a related item, batting helmets off to the city of Aspen for finally bucking up for the artificial turf surface that will be installed on the upper Iselin field next to the ARC this spring. It’s a long overdue improvement to help the local high school baseball program that has played only one game at home (1984) in its 60-year existence. Next season will be much safer and homework-friendly for the ballplayers who will not have to commute daily to El Jebel for practice and games, and more environmental friendly for the rest of us. It is also one more field that can be used for lacrosse and soccer, too, so that those kids won’t have to practice until ten o’clock at night due to scheduling constraints for the one synthetic field currently overused.Lastly, I hope the school board will put aside their visual preferences and see the value of synthetic outdoor athletic surfaces for the younger kids, especially if it can be privately funded. The playground at the elementary school should be Astroturf, too. Yes, natural grass is beautiful, but with our climate about all you can do with it in the muddy springtime is rope it off so that Food & Wine can ruin it in June. At the elementary school they can’t do that, so the kids just get filthy playing in the mud. They love it. Moms hate it. We have to change it. They work hard enough as it is … both moms and kids.

Roger Marolt knows that weed has a harder time spreading on athletic fields that are well used by kids. Contact him at roger@maroltllp.com.


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