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Lacrosse goes on offense to vie for official status

December 02, 2005|By By Michael Miller

Newport Beach high school club teams ask school district for recognition as a CIF sport.It's a heady time for lacrosse in Newport Beach, even with spring still a few months away. Both public high schools in town have started lacrosse clubs over the last few years, with participation by both boys and girls on the rise. A local youth league offers sticks and balls to hundreds of elementary and middle-school students. UC Irvine is contributing coaches.

In the Newport-Mesa Unified School District, however, lacrosse is still missing one thing: status as an official sport.

This year, the booster clubs at Corona del Mar High School and Newport Harbor High School have started a push to get the Newport-Mesa district to institute lacrosse as a California Interscholastic Federation, or CIF, sport at the schools.

This is the first year that doing so has been an option: The CIF Southern Section has approved lacrosse as an official sport starting in spring 2006.

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However, the boosters first need approval from district officials, who say it may take another year to sanction a new sport.

"All sports are worthwhile," said Eric Tweit, the athletics director for Newport Harbor. "For me, personally, it isn't about lacrosse. It's about how much we can do."

Last week, more than two dozen Newport-Mesa lacrosse players and parents came to the school board meeting to state their case. In response, the district held a special meeting Wednesday with coaches and athletic directors. Within two weeks, according to Bob Metz, assistant superintendent of secondary education, administrators should make a decision.

In making the case for lacrosse to the district, the booster clubs for Corona del Mar and Newport Harbor have pitched it as a free ride: Certify it as a CIF sport, and they'll pay for all the uniforms, coaches, equipment and transportation. The clubs have even offered to provide resources for Newport-Mesa's other high schools, Costa Mesa and Estancia, which have not yet expressed interest in lacrosse teams.

Certifying a new sport, however, involves more than a simple go-ahead. Administrators must run personnel checks on the coaches, review safety equipment, designate playing fields and schedule buses to and from games. In addition, Metz said, the district may end up footing bills beyond what the boosters can cover.

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