ST. CHARLES – For the first time in their history, St. Charles North and East high schools will offer school-sponsored lacrosse to its students in the spring.
The St. Charles School District 303 Board on Monday voted 6-1 in favor of adding lacrosse as a fully sanctioned IHSA activity at the high schools. Board member Judith McConnell voted no on the proposal because she did not want to see taxpayer money diverted to school lacrosse programs when there was already an active lacrosse club operating without district funding.
The programs will start out with boys varsity, junior varsity and freshman teams at both high schools. The girls will have varsity and junior varsity co-op teams between the schools, according to a proposal from the high schools' athletic departments.
There are 172 students that played under the schools' previous club format, and the high schools' athletic directors contended there is a large enough need to accommodate teams at the schools, the proposal said.
The club's goal all along was to become a school team, said Jeff Richman, one of the club's board members. He attended Monday's school board meeting and was thrilled the proposal was approved.
"For kids to play for their schools is something huge … they're really looking forward to it," Richman said after he left the meeting.
The St. Charles school lacrosse teams will play other IHSA-sanctioned teams, said Mike Sommerfeld, St. Charles East athletic director. The IHSA needs 65 boys teams and 40 girls teams in all to have a state lacrosse championship.
The estimated annual cost to the district to offer lacrosse is $75,000. To phase in the overall cost to the district, the schools will charge each participant $400 the first year and decrease that amount over the next four years until the regular $110 amount that other athletes currently pay is reached. During this time the cost to the district will increase to make up the difference, according to the proposal.