Chesco Pair: Over 45 And Still Playing Lacrosse

Posted: July 17, 1998

John Sullivan of Chester Springs and Bob DiPuppo of Downingtown are members of the U.S. team that begins play today against England in the Grand Masters of Lacrosse Tournament at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

The Grand Masters tourney is part of the Lacrosse World Cup, which is held every four years. The Grand Masters Division is for players older than 45. There is also an Elite Division, with no age limit, and a Masters Division for players over 33.

The tourney opened Wednesday and continues through July 25.

Sullivan, a midfielder, and DiPuppo, a goalie, play for the Philadelphia Masters Lacrosse Club, which plays at the Center for Arts and Technology in Phoenixville.

``It's a sport that doesn't die out,'' DiPuppo said, referring to the masters concept. The game at that level involves more passing and is ``slower-moving,'' he said.

WHIPPETS PICK BYFORD * John Byford, a native of England who coached Villa Joseph Marie Academy to PIAA championships in 1993 and 1994, has been named girls' soccer coach at Downingtown. The former Division 2 professional club player served as an assistant coach at Kutztown University last season but was eager to become a head coach again at the high school level.

``If I can't play, the next-best thing is coaching,'' said Byford, who spent five years playing at the professional level in England. He is the coach of the Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer Association's girls' 15-and-under state select team.

Last season, Downingtown had a 16-5 record under coach Mike Fuguet. The third-seeded Whippets lost to Owen J. Roberts in the second round of the District 1 tournament. Byford has high hopes for this season.

``We have some talent,'' he said. ``I think we can make the state playoffs.''

ERTELL STEPS DOWN * Phoenixville athletic director Jack Ertell has joined a list of area athletic administrators and coaches to step down after long careers. The 53-year-old Ertell, who retired as a social studies teacher at the high school after 32 years, was the Phantoms' AD for 14 years. He served as an assistant athletic director before that.

At Phoenixville, Ertell joined John ``Doc'' Kennedy in resigning. Kennedy stepped down as the Phantoms' baseball coach after 20 years.

Ertell took advantage of a state provision allowing teachers under age 65 with more than 30 years of experience to retire during a two-month period. During his tenure at Phoenixville, he was instrumental in forming the Pioneer Athletic Conference. The Phantoms had previously played in the Ches-Mont League.

``It was a difficult decision for me,'' Ertell said of his retirement. ``Severing my ties with the boosters and the coaches was not easy.''

Ertell said he probably won't be too far from Phoenixville athletics when he returns from a trip to visit family in Arizona.

``I'll probably join the boosters,'' he said.

OPTIMISM AT CHEYNEY * Cheyney's football team hasn't scored a victory in 44 games, but new athletic director Gregory Smith hopes to be the impetus for a program that will get the team on the right track. He knows it won't be easy.

``It's a tall order,'' said Smith, who came to Cheyney from Towson State University, where he was a professor of sports management. ``Things could be worse. We could be oh-for in all sports. I came here because I wanted to be part of a rebuilding process.''

Smith, who holds a doctorate from Temple, will teach in Cheyney's physical-education and recreation department in addition to his duties as athletic director.

And that's what Smith likes about the opportunity. He'd like Cheyney to return to its great athletic past, but he emphasizes education.

``I want to create an environment that's conducive to both academics and athletic competition,'' he said.

To submit items to ``Sports People,'' send information to Don Beideman, The Inquirer Neighbors, 120 N. High Street, West Chester, Pa. 19380.

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