District 155 lacrosse clubs are facing a critical point of their programs’ development.
The D-155 teams’ league (NILAX) will shrink from 13 to eight teams for the upcoming spring season. At today’s 7:30 p.m. school board meeting, the lacrosse clubs will make their pitch to the board about the future of their sport and where they would like to go.
The D-155 teams – Cary-Grove, Crystal Lake Central, Crystal Lake South and Prairie Ridge – long to join the Illinois High School Lacrosse Association, an organization with 75 teams, including the state’s best programs. To play in IHSLA, the teams need the D-155 board to recognize them with an Emerging Sports Agreement.
D-155 director of communication Jeff Puma said, according to the board’s general rules, regulations and procedures, signing an ESA would require a change in policy. Current policy on athletic clubs states that any club sport will not be acknowledged as an emerging sport as defined by the IHSA.
Dundee-Crown, Huntley, Jacobs, Batavia and South Elgin recently left NILAX when their respective districts agreed to sign the ESA. At this point, signing an ESA does not place any financial burden on a school district since the lacrosse teams are club programs and fund themselves.
D-155 club team organizers feel that the D-155 board and administrators are leery that lacrosse eventually will become an IHSA sport, at which point the district will have to fund it. They think under the current economic climate, D-155 does not want to take on another sport.
“We have to guess and read between the lines,” Prairie Ridge Lacrosse Club vice president Marty O’Connor said. “It seems unreasonable that [D-155] would vote against students for something with only the possibility that sometime later it would cost them money.”
O’Connor said there have been no solid dates set for how long programs are considered an emerging sport.
“We’re not looking to take over anything or be a thorn in anyone’s side, all we want is to play other teams,” Prairie Ridge Lacrosse Club president Scott Skiermanski said. “We don’t want more funds. We’re going to be funding everything. All we’re looking for is to play in a larger, more competitive league because that’s where teams are moving toward.”
Tom Zoellner, vice president of the Cary-Grove Lacrosse Club, will address the board tonight. The clubs sent the Northwest Herald a copy of the proposal Zoellner plans to read. He will touch on the growth of lacrosse in the U.S., how many D-155 athletes are playing the sport and how those clubs have grown in a few years.
O’Connor does not see any downside with the board signing an ESA for the D-155 clubs.
“We’re not unreasonable people,” he said. “We sympathize with the plight of school districts in this economy. How do you, as a district, justify voting against this when it doesn’t cost you any money today? And if it’s approved by the IHSA, you can just say, ‘No.’ ”
Limited interest: The Fox Valley Conference has started its search for finding a prospective new member or members by the 2014-15 school year. That year Johnsburg will leave the FVC to re-join the Big Northern Conference.
The FVC is accepting applications from any public schools by Nov. 1, although Woodstock athletic director Glen Wilson, the president of FVC ADs for this school year, said it has been slow.
“The interest has been modest,” Wilson said. “We’re trying to rekindle the conversation. We would welcome seeing more applications as we near the Nov. 1 deadline. It would be wonderful if we had one school that met who we are geographically and on levels of play and we could plug right in [in 2014-15].”
The FVC currently has 14 schools, so when Johnsburg moves, it will leave the FVC Valley Division with seven schools and the FVC Fox with six. For scheduling purposes, especially with football, the FVC wants to have the same number in each division.
• Joe Stevenson is a senior sports writer for the Northwest Herald. He can be reached by email at email@example.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @nwh_JoePrepZone.