With a number of obstacles still standing in the way, the Manatee County School District is exploring what it takes to add boys and girls lacrosse to area high schools.
School district athletic director Jason Montgomery reported to the school board on Tuesday he had met with two of the local lacrosse programs and the district planned to evaluate student interest in programs as early as next week.
“The goal right now is to see where we’re at and see if it’s viable for the 2017-18 school year and to bring one program on at a high school in the east and one program at a high school in the west,” Montgomery said.
Multiple board members reported hearing questions and concerns from those in the community about having lacrosse programs.
“I know there’s a lot of interest out there,” board member Dave Miner said.
Montgomery said there’s a number of factors that come into play when adding new sports, especially one like lacrosse, he said.
In order to assuage any concerns related to Title IX -- a federal law that pushes districts and schools to provide equal athletic opportunities to both boys and girls – the district would have to make sure there’s enough interest to add a boys team and a girls team.
The start-up cost of adding a new sport is also a concern, Montgomery said. He estimated it would cost about $300 per student in start-up costs for boys lacrosse. That would include equipment, jerseys and covering the cost of coaches.
A third concern would be getting referees and officials. Right now, there’s only one FHSAA-sanctioned officials group in this area and those officials cover a wide area that includes Hillsborough, Pinellas, Polk, Pasco and then Manatee.
Lacrosse is also a tough sport on fields, especially around the crease, or the goal area, Montgomery said.
“Lacrosse is traditionally the toughest on the field of any sport,” he said.
Montgomery said he was meeting and with the Manatee Wildcats and the Monsters lacrosse programs. Montgomery is also watching the lacrosse programs roll out at Hillsborough, Pasco and Polk counties as they are a little ahead of Manatee in implementing lacrosse in the high schools.
“We’ll look forward to hearing an update,” board chairwoman Karen Carpenter said.
During the workshop, the board also discussed updates to Superintendent Diana Greene’s annual evaluation, updates on discipline data and worked on more updates to the school board’s policies and bylaws.