Lacrosse becomes 19th competitive IHSA sport

Finnley Jessogne and Meghan Warner

Lacrosse will be the 19th sport to be recognized by the IHSA, after years of competing as a club.  Starting in the 2017-18 season lacrosse can compete as a state sanctioned sport.

“The numbers [of teams playing] have gone up, and now the IHSA has declared that they will recognize lacrosse as an Illinois High School Association sport,” Vazquez said.

According to Vazquez, many schools do not have lacrosse teams because administrators think that the sport may just be a trend.  

“The IHSA has been trying to get teams to commit to participate in a state series contest,” Rolly Vazquez, athletic director, said.  Lacrosse becoming a sanctioned sport has been a five year process, due to many schools not having enough athletes to play, according to Vazquez.

Starting in the 2017-18 season there will be a tournament among schools throughout District 95.

There have been many obstacles throughout this five year process.

“One of the biggest obstacles has been the transition between parents running the program to the athletic department running the program,” Mike Sutton, varsity lacrosse coach, said.  According to Sutton, the lacrosse program will be run much smoother.  The teams will have more access to weight rooms, the fields, and many more school amenities.  

This transition is not only an exciting event for staff, but an exciting event for athletes as well. Athletes such as, Melanie Brown.  According to Brown, this transition is a big step for the school and for the sport.  

“I’m excited that it got sanctioned, because I feel we can get more privileges than we’ve had before,” Melanie Brown, junior player, said.  Brown has been a player on varsity since her freshman year.

The transition may not be easy as it seems, there are many differences between a sport being run by a club than being run by boosters.

One of the main differences between lacrosse being a club sport versus it being an IHSA sport is the funding.  According to Vazquez, lacrosse in the past has been funded by athlete fees and fundraising.  Lacrosse is now being funded by LZHS boosters.  

Funding is not the only change within the program.  

“This year more than ever, the captains have taken an active roles as leaders of the team,” Sutton said.  Since IHSA coaches are not allowed to coach in off-season, many upperclassmen have taken the role of running different practices for the team.  

Yet throughout this transition, Sutton thought there would need to be a culture change.

“We want the kids to be friends with each other, and for practice to be a very positive spot for them to be after school,” Sutton said.  

Some ways that the team bonds at practice is with different games, or even “getting to know you” activities.  Sutton believes in positive reinforcement and bonding as team. Teamwork is the only thing that can really win championships.