Paying for Lacrosse

May 30, 2018

Lacrosse is currently Hanover (Va.) High School's only pay-to-play sport, resulting in some student-athletes being unable to participate.

According to Richmond.com, varsity was first established as a club sport in Hanover County in the 2007-8 school year. It was made into a varsity sport in 2014, on the condition that players' parents would pay to offset the costs, since the county had a difficult financial situation at the time. The fee is $100 per player, half of what it was when it was first implemented, and does not include players' equipment.

Zack Carey, the boys' lacrosse coach at Hanover High School, said the fee has become a barrier to players participating on the team. He said some eighth graders hoped they would not have to pay to play on a high school team after paying for middle school teams, and are disappointed to hear about the fee.

“Every year we probably have eight to 10 kids that want to start playing in either their eighth-grade year or their freshman year,” Carey said. “They come out and we tell them about the fee, and they have to go and tell their parents that and they have to buy their own equipment, which is probably another $200 or $300 on top of that. So, we lose probably half of those kids just because the parents can’t pay that all at once.”

Carey, who played on the club team in 2009, also said that the players whose parents agreed to the deal have since graduated.

Patrick Kane, a retired coach for Hermitage (Va.) High School, has paid $1,700 worth of fees for his three daughters to participate in lacrosse. He questioned why the agreement is still being enforced six years after it was first made.

“It’s an overall positive experience, and it can be very rewarding to be on a team and work together and learn how to compete,” Kane said. “There’s tons of attributes you get from playing a team sport. I just don’t understand while it’s still pay-to-play.”

Chris Whitley, Public Information Officer for the district, said that in 2014, “there were some very tough decisions being made” when it came to the district's finances, and the district had to cut teacher positions. He said he intended to fully fund lacrosse, but did not promise a definite timetable.

“Our goal is to fully fund it eventually, but other funding priorities have taken precedence,” Whitley said.

Carey said that while he hoped the fee would be removed, he was aware that lacrosse was gradually growing.

“It is a new sport, and it’s growing in Hanover County and all over the country. A lot of schools, outside of up north, are doing the same thing,” he said. “I think it’s expanding a lot faster than the county had ever planned on, and I think they’re still trying to catch up with it. I don’t think it’s unfair. It’s just going to take time for everything to balance out.”

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