Lacrosse could become more than a club sport for high schools in Arizona within the next few years.
The gears are in motion to sanction boys and girls lacrosse as official Arizona Interscholastic Association sports, and it could happen as early as 2009.
“We are interested and are supporting it,” Arizona Youth Lacrosse League board member Julie Dionne said.
In order for a new sport to be sanctioned in Arizona, several schools must show interest and approach the AIA’s executive board, AIA executive director Harold Slemmer said.
AIA bylaws require enough schools field teams to form separate regions and hold a state tournament.
“No (school administrators) have initiated interest yet,” Slemmer said.
AIA assistant director Chuck Schmidt said any proposals by school administrators would have to be submitted by January to get on the board’s March agenda.
The AYLL’s interest in making lacrosse an AIA sport peaked when John Wilborn, the father of Scottsdale Horizon player Alex Wilborn, discussed it with an AIA executive board member recently.
Dionne said Wilborn, an attorney, is coordinating the discussions for the AYLL and said lacrosse could be approved by 2009, but would more likely be admitted sometime around 2010. The AYLL hopes to get that proposal on this year’s AIA agenda.
The AYLL began as the Phoenix Youth Lacrosse League when it was founded by a group of former lacrosse coaches and players in 1995.
Currently, the AYLL is made up of 44 boys varsity and junior varsity teams and 22 junior high school teams. The Arizona Girls Lacrosse Association has 13 varsity and five junior varsity teams.
“Our high school numbers could double with the West Valley schools taking off,” Dionne said.
If the sport is approved by the AIA, Dionne said the AYLL has two main conditions: that both boys and girls lacrosse be admitted and that the sport be played in the spring.
Because the AYLL begins its season between the winter and spring high school seasons, there is a conflict for field use with prep soccer.
If AIA-sanctioned, lacrosse would start after soccer season had ended.
There are other hurdles to AIA sanctioning, as well.
AIA rules require a head coach to have an Arizona teaching or coaching certificate on file at the school where he coaches. Dionne said only one current AYLL coach is a teacher.
Lacrosse appears to be the front-runner to become the next AIA sanctioned sport.
Ice hockey representatives had expressed interest in becoming an AIA sport in the past. But Slemmer said no schools have approached the AIA and he has heard little recent discussion about it.
“More schools are hesitant about ice hockey because of the expenses,” said Slemmer, referring to equipment and ice rental costs.
Boys volleyball was the last AIA-sanctioned sport to be added in 1995.