GSN NEWS STAFF
Lacrosse is a growing sport, especially among girls, but one that still is not sanctioned for interscholastic high school play in Arizona.
So, like ice hockey, lacrosse is a club sport, on its own for funding.
Typical of leagues that scrape to get by is One Team Lacrosse, a Southeast Valley league of about 250 boys and girls who live in Chandler or Gilbert and attend Chandler Unified School District schools.
Their annual fundraiser, a corn-hole tournament, is 1-6 p.m. Sunday at Buffalo Wild Wings, 970 S Gilbert Road in Gilbert. One Team Lacrosse is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
“We brought teams together to have a larger and, frankly, more positive voice in the East Valley,” said Leslie McCoy, league president. “We support a healthy extracurricular activity for our kids.”
Players from kindergarten through 12th grade participate on age-group teams. Youth boys and girls teams and high school girls play January through April. High school boys play February through May. They generally play in Arizona, most games in the Valley or in Tucson. Teams do travel to tournaments in California, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado.
It isn’t necessarily an inexpensive sport. Costs range from $175 to $525.
“We are 100 percent non-profit, so it depends completely on our costs incurred for field space, lighting, field lining, team equipment and uniforms,” McCoy said.
“We have purchased and collected donated equipment for new kids to borrow so they don’t have a large outlay in cost to try the sport.”
Club lacrosse is thriving in other areas, including Ahwatukee, as well.
Seth Polansky of the Arizona Interscholastic Association, the governing body of high school sports in the state, said that the organization, recognizes the growth of lacrosse.
For it to become a sanctioned high school sport, it must be recommended from a conference committee, a school representative or the like.
Those recommendations are then presented to the AIA Executive Board for consideration.
It was that board that in recent years voted to add beach volleyball, girls wrestling and, coming this fall, e-sports.
Lacrosse came to the board a few years ago,” Polansky said. “A group associated with lacrosse was in discussion with a board member. However, that board member passed away. It never came back to the board as an action item after that.
“All it would take is an official committee or group to make a recommendation at a board meeting through an agenda item, and then for the board to approve. With most of our board members serving at member schools, they probably already know the positives and negatives about adding these sports.”
The big issue is field space. Lacrosse would compete with football and boys and girls soccer for use of fields.
Meanwhile, leagues like One Team Lacrosse negotiate with Chandler schools and city parks officials for fields, and conduct fundraisers like the corn-hole tournament to raise money to pay for them.
Entry fee for the tournament is $50 per team.
The winning team gets $400, the runner up $200. Those who don’t want to play but want to stop by to watch, eat, drink and support the cause should mention the tournament when ordering. The league then receives 15 percent of food and bar tabs.