Boys and girls lacrosse are poised to become official school sports at Riverside-Brookfield High School next year.
At the June 12 meeting of District 208 Board of Education, the school’s administration presented a proposal to make boys and girls lacrosse official school sports in 2018-19, and the school board is expected to vote on the proposal on July 10.
There are the 26 sports teams currently at RBHS.
Boys and girls lacrosse have been club sports at for the past two years, but club sports operate without significant funding from the school and do not participate in Illinois High School Association state championship tournaments.
Assistant Principal for Student Affairs Dave Mannon told the school board that it would cost the school approximately $20,000 to make boys and girls lacrosse official school sports.
Last year, the boys lacrosse club team played 10 games while the girls team played eight. Money for the club teams came from donations and fundraising. Some equipment was donated.
“It is a costly sport,” Mannon told the school board, noting that boys lacrosse players wear shoulder pads and helmets while girls only wear googles. More physical contact is allowed in boys lacrosse than girls lacrosse. Players typically buy their own lacrosse sticks, Mannon said.
Lacrosse is fast-growing sport and last year became officially sanctioned by the Illinois High School Association (IHSA). Seventy-eight boys teams participated in the official first IHSA state lacrosse tournament in May as did 58 girls teams. Almost all of the high schools currently playing lacrosse are in the Chicago area. Lyons Township High School, which had a club team for years, fielded officially sanctioned boys and girls lacrosse teams last year.
“I see this as a thriving sport,” Mannon said. “It’s very popular in the area.”
A number of lacrosse players, along with their parents and coaches, came to the June 12 school board meeting to show their support for making lacrosse an official school sport.
Four current RBHS lacrosse players addressed the school board during the public comment portion of the board meeting asking the board to make lacrosse an official team sport at RBHS.
“I think RB has a pretty good chance to become a pretty big powerhouse in lacrosse,” said Jacob Spinelle, who was captain of the boys lacrosse club team last season.
Last season 40 boys and 15 girls played on the RBHS club teams. In boys lacrosse, there are 10 players per team on the field at the same time, while in girls lacrosse each team has 12 players on the field.
The administration surveyed RBHS students in May to gauge interest in lacrosse, and 168 students said that they would be interested if it became an official school sport.
Mannon said if the school board makes lacrosse an official sport, the size of the boys and girls teams would probably be limited to 35 or 40 players each. Both boys and girls lacrosse are played in the spring in Illinois.
Home games would probably not be played in the RBHS stadium, but rather at a local park. Two coaches, one for each team, would be hired and probably paid $6,283.
The administration’s proposal anticipates the boys and girls teams both playing 14 game seasons next spring. The teams would play at the junior varsity level for two years before moving up to varsity competition, although the teams could play the six varsity games required to be eligible for the IHSA state tournament.