Though lacrosse shares many of the same qualities as school-sponsored sports, it is only considered a high school club sport in Illinois high schools. Central’s girls’ lacrosse team partnered up with Naperville North’s team to lobby for school sponsorship at the Sept. 16 school board meeting. Central seniors Liz Goeden and Kelsey Pajor and North lacrosse players Carly Shisler and Taylor Arcivar presented their case to the Board of Education through speeches about what lacrosse means to them.
The primary reason the team seeks school sponsorship is to secure funding and lower the cost of participation. According to Pajor, participants normally pay about $450 for the season, but based on how much the team fundraises and the number of people on the team, this number varies. If more girls join, the cost per person decreases, but Pajor says that recruitment is difficult because of how expensive it is to join in the first place. She calls this the “snowball effect.”
“Right now, we are paying a very high price and some people just can’t pay that, especially with seniors planning their future to go to college,” Pajor said. “The school sponsorship would take away a lot of the money we would have to pay.”
Senior Saoirse Lucy adds that not being school-sponsored makes it harder to secure practice time and gain the respect other sports have.
“It’s hard to look at other teams and see that we are practicing just as hard as [they] are, playing the same amount of games, but we have to go around all these loops to get a normal [athletic] experience,” Lucy said.
Lucy remembers showing up at the lacrosse fields for practice and finding them occupied by Naperville Park District soccer players or other athletes. As a result, most lacrosse practices take place late at night, around 9:30 p.m.
“We practice just as much as regular teams, [but we] can’t get varsity study halls because we aren’t school-sponsored,” Pajor said.
Junior Danielle Stumpf believes that one of the most difficult aspects of not being school-sponsored is finding and paying for coaches. The school takes care of securing a coaching staff for sponsored sports, but a group of dedicated parents and athletes has to take this responsibility for lacrosse.
“We are still looking for another JV coach,” Stumpf said. “Last year was a real struggle because we had to find another coach and pay for it ourselves.”
Several challenges are currently preventing girls’ lacrosse from becoming school-sponsored. To recognize the girls’ lacrosse team as a school-sponsored sport, District 203 must also recognize the boys’ lacrosse team as school-sponsored. However, according to Lucy, boys’ lacrosse is much more expensive than girls’ lacrosse due to additional equipment. Since the school board already approved its annual budget, it may be difficult to consider the added costs of sponsoring two additional sports this year. Furthermore, if both of Central’s lacrosse teams become school-sponsored, then they are only allowed to play against other school-sponsored teams. The problem is, most other lacrosse teams in Illinois are still not school-sponsored.
Stumpf realizes that due to these challenges, school-sponsorship will not be immediate. However, the girls agree that the effort is worth it.
“I’m a senior, but just to get this ball rolling would be awesome for classes to come,” Pajor said.