ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

School board: Looking at lacrosse changes

The Brainerd School Board Monday night learned what it would take to move lacrosse from a club sport to a Minnesota State High School League sport. Charlie Campbell, activities director at Brainerd High School, presented a feasibility report to t...

Derek Hendrickson (right), dean and activities director at Forestview Middle School, addresses the Brainerd School Board Monday night about participation trends in middle school activities. He is joined by Charlie Campbell, activities director at Brainerd High School.Spenser Bickett/Brainerd Dispatch
Derek Hendrickson (right), dean and activities director at Forestview Middle School, addresses the Brainerd School Board Monday night about participation trends in middle school activities. He is joined by Charlie Campbell, activities director at Brainerd High School. Spenser Bickett/Brainerd Dispatch

The Brainerd School Board Monday night learned what it would take to move lacrosse from a club sport to a Minnesota State High School League sport.

Charlie Campbell, activities director at Brainerd High School, presented a feasibility report to the board outlining the costs of providing lacrosse as an MSHSL sport. The board decided to review the data and take action on the issue at the October board meeting.

Ideally, the boys lacrosse program would need about 18-20 participants for a varsity team, Campbell said. Figures for the girls lacrosse program would be a little lower, he said, because girls lacrosse has fewer players on the field than boys lacrosse. The programs would start with a varsity team, he said, and add a junior varsity team as participation grows over time.

"The numbers we have right now would definitely support having at least one team," Campbell said. "And with continued growth, we'd be able to offer JV at some point down the road."

In October 2016, Rocori High School announced it would be moving from club lacrosse to offering lacrosse as an MSHSL activity, according to a memo from Campbell. Grand Rapids High School and Duluth have made the same transition. Moorhead High School and Alexandria Area High School are evaluating the same issue, Campbell said.

ADVERTISEMENT

It has become increasingly difficult to schedule games with other club lacrosse teams, Campbell said. State high school league bylaws prohibit MSHSL teams from scheduling scrimmages or games against club teams.

"It leaves us very little to compete with," Campbell said.

The current lacrosse coaches are passionate enough to help the district transition to MSHSL status for lacrosse, Campbell said, but he suspects they don't want to be the long-term coaching solution. Like with any sport, an incoming coach would be adequately trained before given the reins to the program, he said.

If the district were to move to MSHSL lacrosse, it would serve as a stamp of approval for students and families interested in the sport, Campbell said.

"I do think we would see, actually rapid growth," Campbell said. "Not incremental like we've had."

It would be possible to have MSHSL lacrosse as a cooperative sport with other schools, Campbell said, but that brings up a new discussion about the district's view of co-ops.

Board chair Bob Nystrom said he was encouraged to see other teams moving from club to MSHSL lacrosse. Board member Chris Robinson said the option appears possible and feasible.

"We knew this would come to a head eventually," Nystrom said. "And it feels like there's a lot of excitement with the students to do this."

ADVERTISEMENT

Cost estimate

Campbell provided an estimate of the costs of offering lacrosse as an MSHSL sport at BHS. The estimate assumes the teams will play a full regular season schedule of 13 games and head and assistant coaches will be hired. It assumes coaching stipends of $5,233 for the head coach for the first year and $3,420 for the assistant for the first year.

Revenue could be generated from $250 per student activity fees and $6/$4 gate fees charged to spectators. Student activity fee revenue would reduce the district's financial commitment to a little more than $10,000 per gender. Compared to other activities, lacrosse would be one of the least expensive programs in terms of net cost, Campbell said. The net cost per participant of $371 in the first year would be one of the least expensive sports.

"What we found was actually it was quite reasonably priced out, as compared to other activities," Campbell said.

The estimated budget includes $250-$350 per year for equipment purchases. Past donations from the Brainerd Sports Boosters result in minimal startup equipment costs, Campbell said. Some of the equipment could be shared between the boys and girls teams.

"I'm confident that our sports boosters would continue to support a new and developing program," Campbell said.

The budget estimates two coaches for each program, but depending on participation and availability, one coach could suffice in the first season. It might be tough to find teachers who are willing to lead the program and have adequate knowledge about lacrosse, Campbell said. It would also be tough to find enough officials, he said, which is a statewide trend for lacrosse.

"I think it will be a challenge to find knowledgeable coaches and also officials," Campbell said. "So committing to something like this could be a challenge."

ADVERTISEMENT

It might be tough to schedule a full 13-game season the first year, Campbell said, but he is confident he could schedule several games this spring for the teams. The district has until March 15 to let MSHSL know about the district's intention to participate in lacrosse, Campbell said, but ideally, he would need to know as soon as possible.

"Certainly sooner rather than later would be preferable," Campbell said.

The district prefers to hire coaches who are in the educational system, Campbell said, because they understand the human growth and development benefits of activities.

"It helps us get out of the 'win at all costs' culture," Campbell said.

Campbell mentioned an MSHSL waiver that lets teams with an already full schedule add an extra game with a new program, to help the new program get on its feet.

"There might be some schools that are willing to provide that support to us as a new and growing program," Campbell said.

Background

Robinson at the August board meeting asked Campbell to prepare the feasibility study, but Campbell said the issue has been on his radar for quite some time.

Since 2010, BHS has offered boys' lacrosse through the Minnesota Boys' Scholastic Lacrosse Association, Campbell said. Since 2011, girls' lacrosse has been offered through the Minnesota Schoolgirls Lacrosse Association.

According to the MSHSL, there are 98 MSHSL girls lacrosse teams with 3,598 participants and 103 MSHSL boys lacrosse teams with 3,535 participants. The MSHSL also noted lacrosse is the 10th most popular sport for girls nationally.

In a 2015-16 BHS student interest survey, 16 percent of female respondents noted they would try out for lacrosse if it were offered as a school sport, Campbell said. Nearly 16 percent of boys responded the same. He noted the sample size for this survey was about 60 students.

In 2017, 26 boys in grades 8-12 participated in lacrosse, while 45 girls in grades 8-12 participated in lacrosse. Since 2013, participation numbers have steadily increased, Campbell said.

"It's been a good fit for many of our kids," Campbell said.

In other business, the board:

Recognized Brainerd High School football coach Ron Stolski for his 300th win as head coach of the BHS Warriors. The 300th win came from a 30-23 victory over the Buffalo Bison Sept. 1 at Don Adamson Field.

Approved the resignations of the following certified staff: Maria Macioce, english teacher at BHS, effective Aug. 25; and Bernadette Schultz, speech language pathologist at Riverside Elementary School, effective Sept. 25.

Approved donations for the month of September totaling $410. The lone donation was from Lakes Chiropractic for sports physicals at BHS.

What To Read Next
Who are the people being held in custody in Aitkin, Beltrami, Cass, Clearwater, Crow Wing, Hubbard, Itasca, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Todd, and Wadena counties?
Fundraising is underway to move the giant ball of twine from the Highland, Wisconsin, home of creator James Frank Kotera, who died last month at age 75, 44 years after starting the big ball.
Inmates in-custody in the Mille Lacs County jail in Milaca, Minnesota
Inmates in-custody in the Hubbard County jail in Park Rapids, Minnesota