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Lacrosse is not available for some local players

Dec 04, 2019 10:58AM ● By Greg James

Copper Hills High School will field a lacrosse team this spring, several Granite School District schools will not. (Photo courtesy of Copper Hills lacrosse.,)

By Greg James | [email protected] 

In May of 2017, the Utah High School Activities Association voted to sanction boys and girls high school lacrosse starting in the spring of 2020. The season is just around the corner, and several Granite School District teams are non-existent. 

“There is not a lot of interest,” Taylorsville athletic director Guy Mackay said. 

“It’s a little heart-breaking,” senior Miles Watkins said. “I thought we would have the first hometown team my senior year, but it is not to be. We are still fighting.”

Granger, Hunter, Taylorsville, Kearns and Cyprus high schools are among several not sponsoring teams this spring. Several in Davis County and a couple of southern Utah County schools are in the same predicament. There are options for the players from those schools. Those options involve tough choices.

“Players in those Granite District Schools that do not sponsor lacrosse will be able to take advantage of the UHSAA co-op rule,” association assistant director Jon Oglesby said. “It allows them to un-enroll at their school and enroll in a school that offers lacrosse. Then un-enroll and re-enroll after the season at their school.”

Granite School District is not the only one not to sanction the sport completely, Nebo and Davis districts followed suit. Granite students are afforded the opportunity to play at Skyline and Olympus if they desire. Both club teams have existed for several years.

“My advice for any interested players or parents is to have a sit down with a school administrator,” Intermountain Lacrosse Girls Coordinator Maddie Ferguson said. “I am sure there are hold-ups in space/coaches and many things, but in my experience that when approached in the right way people are open to communication and development.”

Sanctioning the sport is the first step to it growing in this area according to supporters.

“There is interest in these areas,” boys coordinator at Intermountain Lacrosse Collin Madsen said. “A group of parents is working to start a youth program in Taylorville, and we were recently approached by a family in Kearns that wants to start up.”

IMLAX is developing a program to help elementary school PE teachers learn the game so they can teach it in school along with sports such as volleyball and soccer.

“With high school lacrosse administration falling with the UHSAA our office now can have the time for outreach with those schools,” Ferguson said. “It is easy for kids to fall in love with this game. All they need is a stick in their hand.”

According to the National Federation of High School Sports, the number of high school sports athletes dropped last season by nearly 44,000 participants. Lacrosse is a sanctioned sport in 26 states and reported 214,000 athletes last season.

According to the Wall Street Journal, lacrosse participants has increased more than any sport the last decade. 

In Utah, sanctioning the sport has had its bumps, but participants expressed their excitement to be part of the UHSAA.

“It doesn’t mean that the games are all on prime time or that getting the right coach has gotten any easier,” Ferguson said. “Parent boards are now dealing with the more fun things than the administration things. The school now puts more time and money into logistics like uniforms and such. It does mean that your late-night games and pep rallies are in the school announcements. It has become legitimate, the high school varsity lacrosse player is possible in Utah, that is pretty rad in my opinion.”

“Administrators and coaches have been wonderfully collaborative,” Oglesby said. “We are excited for the upcoming season.”

Sanctioned boys and girls lacrosse is set to begin this spring. The first official practice can be held in February, and the finals are scheduled for May 22 in Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman.