Girls lacrosse teams at both Naperville North and Central high schools are making a push to be recognized as a sanctioned sport instead of a club.
Players and parents from both schools brought their plea to the Naperville Unit District 203 school board Monday, spurred by the Illinois High School Association's decision to sponsor a statewide tournament once there are 40 girls teams and 65 boys teams designated by their district as sports.
Parent Derke Price said lacrosse is entering its ninth year in the district and is an "exploding" sport.
"Girls lacrosse straddles a world between clubs and sports," he said. "And in that straddle there are all sorts of issues that arise that won't exist when lacrosse is made a sport."
Among those issues is not being included in the district's contract for athletic trainers, having trouble recruiting coaches, playing "home" games miles away and playing late at night because lacrosse gets lower priority than other sports, he said.
Naperville North lacrosse players Carly Shisler and Taylor Arcivar said club status can also make it hard to recruit players because those who do participate do not get the same recognition as those who participate in other sports.
"This is upsetting because we put the same amount of effort into every practice and everything we do for our club," Arcivar said.
For some girls, lacrosse may be the only opportunity to participate in a sport during high school, said Central player Liz Goeden.
"It helps teach girls important values like teamwork and respect and how to carry yourself with pride," Goeden said. "I also have a lot of great memories from playing lacrosse at school, and I think it would be great to give other girls the same experiences that I had."
District administrators say they are looking into the costs associated with adding girls lacrosse as a sanctioned sport.
"It is a bit of a concern to me in terms of timeline … that the Illinois High School Association offered this series … after we had already come forward with the budget process," Superintendent Dan Bridges said.
He said he would need to speak to the schools' athletic and activity directors as well as the principals before making a recommendation to the school board. The IHSA is expected to count the number of schools with teams recognized as sports this winter.