High school lacrosse sanctioned for the state
The sanctioning of lacrosse will allow games like Olympus vs. Highland to be official varsity games, with official varsity recognition. (Steve Crandall/ Holladay)
When the Utah High School Activity Association (UHSAA) finally sanctioned the sport of lacrosse as a varsity sport for the state of Utah, Brae Burbidge was in shock.
“I couldn’t believe it. I looked at Craig (Morris) and both of our mouths were just hanging open,” Burbidge said.
Burbidge and three other prominent pushers, Craig Morris, Renee Tribe and Bryan Barnhill, have been trying to get the sport of lacrosse out of the realm of club sport-dom and into an official sanctioned varsity sport for about two years now.
“We met with the UHSAA five or six times since we started the process. They have been great, but we never really got the support we needed. Last October, we finally started gaining a little bit of traction,” Burbidge said.
In the most recent meeting with the UHSAA in early May, they brought up the subject of sanctioning again. There hasn’t been a new sanctioned sport in 11 years.
“Craig and I started the discussion and they opened it up for conversation. As the discussion went on, two reps, Amber Shill and Belinda Johnson, started to make some pretty good points in our favor regarding sanctioning. The momentum started to shift in the meeting, and eventually they called for a vote,” said Burbidge.
And it overwhelmingly passed. The first season of lacrosse as an official sanctioned sport is planned for the spring season of 2020.
However, while the sport is sanctioned, their work is not done. The individual districts and schools still have to sanction it themselves for their respective schools.
“The delay is good, because it will give time for the districts and school to figure out things like costs and field use, and if they do, how they will divvy up the schools,” Burbidge said.
Regardless, this is big step for the sport in the state, and the motivation to keep this process going is high and relevant for Burbidge and others.
“The club system worked great, we appreciated the autonomy that came with it. But being sanctioned does two things. It makes it safer, by allowing teams to use school buses and school trainers and facilities. And it legitimizes the sport. For example, for teams that win the state championship, some schools won’t allow them to put the trophy in the school because it is a club sport.”
“Sanctioning will allow for growth for the sport of lacrosse in Utah, such as increasing nationwide recognition, especially for things like scholarships,” added Amy Erickson, head coach of the Olympus girls lacrosse team.
“If you look at when soccer was officially sanctioned, it exploded after that. Most lacrosse programs are the second largest sports team at the school, only behind football,” Burbidge said.
While the process is still underway, this is a crucial step for lacrosse in the state. For the players, it will be safer, and they will receive the recognition they so rightly deserve for their achievements. For the coaches, it will add legitimacy and recognition for their teams and programs. And for the state, it will be great brand exposure, and a stepping stone for the sport and state on the national scale.