Vision of lacrosse in VHSL stirs conflict


Joshua Esposo

Ocean Lakes Boys Lacrosse Club puts hands in after workout on Jan. 21, 2020.

Lacrosse, a sport growing rapidly around the world, has made its way into many high school programs, but Hampton Roads has not yet done the same.

Principals in the area say that they are eager to start up the program, but there are some financial roadblocks: building new fields, increasing coach stipends, purchasing school gear and uniforms, etc. 

“Ocean Lakes has a solid boys and girls lacrosse club program. Several other Virginia Beach high schools have strong club programs, but not all. The Beach District desires to build solid lacrosse programs in all VB high schools. This is going to require securing the funding, field space, qualified coaches and adequate support staff. The principals would also like to ensure an increase in coaching supplements across the board before adding another sport. There has not been a coaching stipend increase in over 20 years,” said principal and Chairman of the Beach District Committee Dr. Claire Leblanc. “Nevertheless, the Beach District is committed to adding lacrosse as a varsity sport in all 11 Beach high schools. We are currently in a discussion of how best to make this happen. The Beach District certainly appreciates HRLax for their willingness to help us facilitate the process.”

Lacrosse is the second most expensive sport, at least, on the boys’ side due to helmets and other gear required to play. This makes it hard for some of the student body to get involved with lacrosse and is another reason why all the schools in the Beach District want adequate funding before launching this program. 

“HR lax and other organizations in the area have been working towards this goal for at least a decade, but we engaged with the city more formally about three years ago. I think that VBCPS has been a little hesitant to move forward with this for a number of reasons. One is that there’s a finite amount of money in the budget, and other people are already competing for it. Another reason is because other spring sports might see lacrosse as a threat to them because we compete for athletes, field space, and other resources,” said Ocean Lakes Lacrosse Club coach and vice president of the Hampton Roads Lacrosse League, Mark Keller.

No money has been given to VBCPS yet, but according to Keller, the Tidewater Chapter of U.S. Lacrosse has been sitting on a pool of money intended for lacrosse programs in Hampton Roads.

“This money comes from the dues that we all pay to USL to maintain our memberships. The fact that we all have our own gear; helmets, pads, gloves, sticks, goals, etc. considerably mitigates costs for the city. The important question is: is it worth the money? I think that our school board members are realizing that it is worth it, and that we are going to be successful in this endeavor,” said Keller.