By Daniel Karell
The sport of lacrosse took a significant step forward in the state of Ohio on Thursday.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association approved a recommendation from a subcommittee to officially sponsor lacrosse beginning in the 2016-2017 academic year, with play to take place during the spring.
Lacrosse will be listed as an OHSAA emerging sport, the first designation of that kind, with 122 boys teams and 118 girls teams already playing under the auspices of the Ohio High School Lacrosse Association (OHSLA) and the Ohio Schoolgirls Lacrosse Association (OSLA).
“The members of the subcommittee did an outstanding job studying lacrosse in Ohio and researching the sport both statewide and nationally,” OHSAA commissioner Daniel Ross said. “I know they also received tremendous assistance from Paul Balcerzak, commissioner of both the Ohio High School Lacrosse Association (OHSLA) and the Ohio Schoolgirls Lacrosse Association (OSLA). Lacrosse is definitely growing in our state at both the youth and high school levels, and it’s exciting when schools want their sport to be part of our association and also exciting that more students will be able to complement their high school experience with another participation opportunity.”
Lacrosse is a team game, originating with Native American peoples in what’s now the northeast United States. It’s played with a long stick with a baseball glove-like webbing at the end of it. A round ball is passed between players, and shot at a goal similar to hockey. The sport is played on a field the size of a soccer field, but like hockey, players can control the ball behind the goal.
Lacrosse has a huge following in the northeast but the sport has spread like wildfire across the country in the last decade, with teams being created in Virginia, Illinois, Colorado, and California. Collegiately in Ohio, the Ohio State Buckeyes have men’s and women’s lacrosse teams, and both teams made the NCAA Tournament in 2015.
Despite the sport being sponsored by the OHSAA, it likely won’t be coming to Brown County any time soon due to a perceived lack of interest and possible lack of funding.
“It’s something we’re going to have to talk about, I think,” Western Brown Athletics Director Tim Cook said in a phone interview. “For anybody in our league (the SBAAC) to do it, I think it’s going to have to be as a whole. I don’t know at this point. We’ve got a meeting next week, so I’ll probably discuss it then.”
Cook said that the sport is popular in the big cities but he’s not sure if there’s enough interest from SBAAC schools to start the sport at those schools as of 2017. However, he is positive about the sport’s future in the area.
“It’s a growing sport, definitely,” Cook said. “Over the last 10 years, it’s been through the Ohio Lacrosse Association and they’ve had growth for several years now. We spent a year and a half on a committee looking at a lot of things, finances, everything. Once it got approved, I think you’ll see more schools going to it.”
Tim Carlier, the Athletics Director at Fayetteville-Perry High School and a member of the Southern Hills Athletic Conference, also thinks it will be a while before lacrosse comes to Brown County.
“It would be a while for that to happen,” Carlier said of Fayetteville adding lacrosse. “It’s one of the fastest growing sports around the nation but for Fayetteville, we don’t even have golf. I don’t see it here in the near future for us.”