Lacrosse is an official high school sport. It took eight years of meeting, pleading and discussing, but the Petaluma City Schools District Tuesday night approved making varsity lacrosse at both Petaluma and Casa Grande high schools a California Interscholastic Federation sport.
"This is a great night for all the kids who have played lacrosse through the years and have made it possible for the ones coming up now to be able to represent their schools," said Ben Hewitt, the coach of what until Tuesday night was the Casa Grande club team.
"We started lacrosse here 10 years ago and started working for it to be a school sport eight years ago," noted Jill Olsen, one of the Petaluma Lacrosse pioneers. "It took a lot of work from some new freshmen and a few of us seasoned (don't call us old-timers) veterans."
"We worked together and solved the issues," said Todd Samet, a lacrosse coach and supporter who has long been involved in the effort to bring the sport into the schools. "We think this is a win for the district and a win for the kids who will have a chance to have a real high school varsity sports experience."
The plan is for Petaluma and Casa Grande to field both boys and girls varsity teams that would become members of the North Coast Section and join the North Bay League, or a "Sonoma County supplemental league for lacrosse." Play as school teams will begin in spring 2015.
The lacrosse teams will be under the direction of the school district and each school's administration, and that includes the hiring of the head coaches. Salaries for head coaches and their assistants will be paid by the district, according to its salary schedule.
Board member Mary Schafer said it was important that the district pay the coaches' salaries. "I want to make sure the lacrosse family is treated fairly and not like a second-class citizen," she said.
Board President Troy Sanderson agreed. "A level playing field is very important," he said. "Now everyone is a real Trojan or a real Guacho, but it comes with a price. that price is loss of control for Petaluma Youth Lacrosse. You're in with all the benefits and all the burdens," he told the lacrosse supporters.
PYL will provide equipment and uniforms and pay outright or reimburse the school district for most other expenses, including transportation and referees.
Casa Grande will play its home games on its own field, while Petaluma will play its games at Lucchesi Park.