The District 303 school board’s vote Monday to fold boys and girls lacrosse into the athletic departments at St. Charles East and North has energized the sport’s supporters, both locally and statewide.
The D-303 board voted 6-1 to fund lacrosse at the schools, albeit with a larger participation fee that gradually will drop to be in line with the schools’ other sports.
“I think it’s a very good sign that St. Charles chose to embrace it,” Geneva athletic director Jim Kafer said. “I think that now I’m hoping some of the other schools that haven’t been on board here in recent years will change and do it.”
Kafer said Geneva already has functioned similarly to the model St. Charles is moving toward for the past three years. He likened lacrosse’s status at Geneva to sports such as boys volleyball and badminton, with the major distinction being lacrosse does not yet have an IHSA state series.
“It’s a school organization, but it’s not fully funded like the other sports,” Kafer said. “The school pays for transportation, and lacrosse has used the school facilities forever, but the funding for the coaches and so forth goes from a participation fee for the kids.”
Kafer supervises and reviews the lacrosse coaches at Geneva, and the ADs in St. Charles – East’s Mike Sommerfeld and North’s Dan Dolney – will take on those responsibilities beginning this school year.
With lacrosse becoming an increasingly entrenched part of the high school sports scene in Geneva and St. Charles, the question becomes how soon until the sport graduated from an “emerging” IHSA sport to a full-fledged one, complete with a state tournament.
Kafer expects that possibility to bubble back to the forefront this school year after 55 boys teams – 10 short of the cutoff set by the IHSA – committed to fielding teams last year. There were 43 girls teams on board, three more than the 40 required, but the IHSA is unwilling to go forward until both girls and boys lacrosse state series are viable.
Although decisions like the one D-303 reached Monday indicate momentum for high school lacrosse in Illinois, there have been enough setbacks in recent years to keep lacrosse-backers from growing overconfident.
Rich Martin, president of the Illinois High School Lacrosse Association, thinks the IHSA would have been better suited establishing a long-term date for initiating a state series to give schools more notice and certainty with which to plan.
“The problem with their process is they don’t give schools enough time,” Martin said. “They get all their results back in December and say, ‘Oh, we’re going to sponsor this now.’ That’s not enough time for some of these schools that aren’t really in the loop.”
Fall sports bearing down: While football preseason practice opened Monday, other fall sports rev up their preseasons beginning today. The boys and girls golf seasons are first to begin Monday, and we will preview the girls season Friday and the boys season Saturday.
Our football season preview section is due to publish Aug. 28 – the day before the season begins. On a related note, if you know somebody who might be interested in freelance sportswriting for the Kane County Chronicle this year – be it covering football or other fall sports – we are all ears (see contact information below).
• Jay Schwab is sports editor of the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5382 or email@example.com.