Boys’ Lacrosse struggle with WIAA


Aidan Harris , Reporter

Lacrosse is the fastest growing sport in the United States.  It is currently played by 250,000 players in 600 colleges and 2,000 high schools nationwide. In Gig Harbor, and at PHS, it is quickly gaining popularity as a club sport for both boys and girls.

“The boys have a lot of pride in playing for our school,” Peninsula coach Tracy Lyon said.

However, the team is not officially playing for the school because lacrosse is not recognized by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA). The Peninsula team uses the PHS field for practice and they play in the same league as PHS sports, so why does the district still refuse to recognize them?

For one, in order for lacrosse to become an official school sport, the WIAA has to recognize it statewide. This means that lacrosse would have to be able to play in the East and West parts of Washington during the same season. This is difficult because the only time that Lacrosse would fit into the school year would be during the winter season. This season would work fine for the West side of Washington but it would not work on the East side. The cold, snowy Eastern weather prevents Lacrosse from being played during the Winter, and lacrosse would not fit in any other of the sports-packed season.

Willenbrock, PHS Athletic Director, believes it is partly a Title IX issue.  Title IX is a comprehensive federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity. The reason why WIAA has not taken much action for Boys’ Lacrosse is because they do not expect a Girls’ Lacrosse team to balance out the genders’ school sport participation and fulfill the requirements of Title IX.

“The reality of Title IX is that it has a negative effect on boys’ opportunity”, Willenbrock said.

Lyon adds, “If WIAA recognized lacrosse as both a boys’ and girls’ sport, there would be immediate growth.”

In other words, This is a rare case where Title IX is actually preventing boys from participating in school athletics. “I’m an ant in a long chain of communication”, Willenbrock said, “I unequivocally support kids participating in sports that they love.”

Lyon said, “So many other things going on that (lacrosse) is a low priority.” WIAA’s refusal to adopt Boys’ Lacrosse is affecting boy athletes in more ways than one. The expenses for a boys’ club lacrosse team are very high. They are required to pay for field time, uniforms, and transportation.

The team currently practices on the PHS field for free but they are required to pay for home games on Roy Anderson Field. “Everybody pays some pretty expensive field fees”, Lyon says, “It would benefit everyone in the school district if we could use the fields for free since our tax money already pays for those.”

The uniforms are also very expensive. These charges prevent many aspiring athletes from participating in Lacrosse. If Boys’ Lacrosse was recognized, the charges would be dropped, and kids that cannot afford to pay hundreds of dollars in expenses would finally get the opportunity to participate.

The lacrosse athletes will continue to work to be recognized because they are determined to eventually earn a lacrosse letter for Peninsula High School.  Mr. Willenbrock believes that if Girls’ Lacrosse teams were coming to the WIAA with this exact problem, the WIAA would take immediate action.

It would be more probable if boys’ and girls’ lacrosse teams communicated unanimously to be officially recognized by the WIAA. “I think it will eventually happen, it takes time,” Willenbrock says.