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Lacrosse makes a push

Organization proposes adding the sport to local high schools; school board notes there are obstacles

Posted: July 28, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: July 28, 2011 1:55 a.m.
 

When John Torres helped create the Santa Clarita Youth Sports Association in 2006, his vision was to expand the area’s youth football scene.

His priorities have changed.

Now his passion is lacrosse, and he is part of a group pushing to have the sport added to the William S. Hart Union School District.

Torres and a few other local lacrosse enthusiasts pitched the idea during a school board meeting last week, suggesting that it could eventually become a CIF-sanctioned sport. They want to start school-affiliated teams as soon as this spring.

“It’s just that the sport of lacrosse is growing so fast and with football in the fall, it just transitions well to lacrosse in the spring,” said Torres, a longtime local youth football coach.

He started coaching lacrosse with the SCYSA in 2010. At that point, the organization had just one boys club team with about 25 players.

Since then, it’s grown to four teams and more than 100 players with a girls team on the way.

SCYSA teams face opponents in Santa Monica, Pasadena and parts of the San Fernando Valley and Conejo Valley.

If the sport were to become sanctioned by the CIF, Torres said teams would likely compete in some sort of independent league, and they would face schools like Camarillo, Chaminade and Crespi.

The biggest selling point for Torres’ committee?

“We don’t expect anything from the schools,” Torres said. “Not one penny.”

But when the cost of travel, insurance, equipment and facilities are factored in, school board members like Joe Messina call it into question.

“Whenever somebody says and there’s no cost to the calling product, I get worried,” Messina said.

Though the proposal was somewhat informal, the board told Torres and the others to come back with more details and statistics.

With practice fields already established in Stevenson Ranch and Valencia, as well as uniforms and equipment from the SCYSA teams, the startup cost would be minimal, Torres said.

From there, the plan is to use ongoing fundraising to sustain the sport.

Due to proximity to the already existing facilities, the idea is to start a team at West Ranch High School first, with hopes of the other five Foothill League schools catching on in the years to follow.

The SCYSA has plans for just one junior high girls team so far, compared to four boys teams. That could present problems with Title IX compliance, which stresses equal opportunities for both genders in sports.

Hart district board member Paul Strickland remains optimistic.

“I think they will see that that’s a problem and an issue, but I think people in this valley have a history of banding together and making this kind of thing happen,” Strickland said.

The proposal is still in its infant stages, but Torres sees the benefits in introducing a sport like lacrosse, which has more traditionally been played on the East Coast.

“You don’t necessarily have to be the biggest kid or the fastest kid out there, but if you want to go out there and have a good time, you can do that,” Torres said.

Yet with little leeway in the district’s budget, some of the specifics still need to be worked out.

“As much as we love our kids’ opportunities to play different sports, we have to make sure it makes fiscal sense,” Messina said.

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