Written by 2:53 am Uncategorized

LACROSSE: Sport showing signs of growth – Press

TEMECULA — The snack bar was open. The “Star Spangled Banner” was played. And the public address announcer knew her stuff, reporting the names of goal scorers to the fans in the stands on a crisp spring break Tuesday afternoon.

At Temecula Great Oak, lacrosse looks just like every other sport. As it should. Great Oak is the pioneer of the sport in the Inland area, having fielded a boys team for nine years now.

At Norco, they’re just getting started.

Norco, in its second season, is only the fourth school in the 100-school Inland area to offer lacrosse, joining Temecula Chaparral, in its fifth season, and Temecula Valley, in its fourth. All four schools also have girls teams.

“Girls lacrosse is the fastest growing sport in America and boys is the second fastest,” Norco coach Keith Parr said.

But growth in the Inland area has been a slow process.

The drawback of having only four schools in Inland Riverside County that offer lacrosse is that teams have to travel outside of the region for games. And that costs money.

Norco is in a league with La Verne Damien, La Quinta and San Diego Vista. The three schools in South Riverside County mostly play schools from Orange and San Diego counties.

The addition of the program at Norco and whispers about lacrosse being added at Corona Santiago and potentially a couple of schools in south county, would be a step toward the ultimate goal of an Inland league.

“I keep on hoping,” Great Oak coach Karl Rohlin III said of the addition of new area teams. “I keep hearing rumors that Murrieta is interested in a team, which would be the next link up the (I-)15 corridor. It would be great for us because we wouldn’t have to travel to Orange County to play games. We could play more of our games locally and save on transportation fees and such.”

Lacrosse was named the fastest growing sport in American in a 2011 Sporting Goods Manufactures Association study cited by sports business expert Darren Rovell: “There were 1.6 million people who played lacrosse last year, a 37.7 jump. Lacrosse participation is up 218.1 percent over the last 10 years.”

Statistics aside, the sustainability of the high school teams in the Inland area can be attributed to youth leagues in Temecula and Murrieta, and the four-year-old Corona Cavaliers club, founded by Parr, a native of Maryland, a lacrosse hotbed.

Rohlin started the Temecula Valley Lacrosse Club roughly 15 years ago for the purpose of feeding the high school team.

“The sport is growing in the valley,’’ Rohlin said. “It’s growing everywhere, but it’s taken off in the valley.”

Great Oak, the strongest team in the area, is 7-2 this season. The Wolfpack have 80 players spread across three teams, and Rohlin said he has had 100 players try out each of the last three years.

There are 60 players on two teams at Chaparral, third-year coach Tim Mann said. The Pumas are 2-6 this season.

Temecula Valley, which will honor its seniors and first four-year class on April 18, has 55 players spread across a varsity and almost two full JV teams, first-year varisty head coach David Cary said. The Golden Bears are 4-4.

And Norco, which is 5-0, has 46 players spread among two boys teams, Parr said.

It took the mother of a player from the Corona Cavaliers youth team, Sherry Sanchez, a counselor at Norco, to convince Parr to start a team at the high school.

“She wanted to continue the lacrosse movement,’’ Parr said. “She asked me, ‘Hey, how about we start a club over here?’ I’m a nine-to-fiver. If it wasn’t for her, we really couldn’t have gotten that program started.”

Whereas the three South County schools play under CIF guidelines, Norco, is a club team hoping to gain CIF sanctioning, maybe as soon as next season.

According to totals on laxpower.com — a comprehensive lacrosse website that tracks scores, ranks teams, provides schedules and much more — there are 240 high schools in California that field lacrosse teams, including 76 in the Southern California region north of San Diego County. (The San Diego Section has 49 schools that field lacrosse teams and has held sanctioned section championships since 2002.)

Those 76 schools are considered “CIF” teams but the state high school governing board does not oversee playoffs. Neither does the 575-school Southern Section. The postseason is conducted by U.S. Lacrosse. (According to bylaws of the massive Southern Section, playoffs will not be sanctioned by the section when less than 20 percent of the membership fields teams in that sport.)

There are another 30 schools that play lacrosse that are considered “non-CIF” or club. That group includes Norco.

The biggest difference, Parr said, is “going CIF, we could schedule more games.”

Ultimately, the universal goal is to grow more teams in the Inland area to cut down on travel costs, which can be $700 or more for a bus round-trip to schools outside of Riverside County, Mann said.

“Lacrosse teams have to fund their own program,” Mann said.

The sport isn’t cheap. A new set of gear (helmet, gloves, stick, arm pads, shoulder pads, cleats and a mouthpiece) can run a player $600 or more, Mann said. Other costs include uniforms and a U.S. Lacrosse (USL) membership (which covers insurance).

When Norco started, Sanchez applied for a grant through USL’s First Stick start-up program, Parr said. The program provided 25 sets of equipment and 25 free USL memberships for the first two years.

“That really helped us out a lot,” Parr said.

Norco also raised $4,500 through a unique mattress-sale fundraiser.

“We are a self-maintained sport,” Parr said. “Even if we were CIF, we have to raise our own funding.”

Rohlin said he tries to schedule away games on Fridays — what he calls “meet-and-greet” games — where individuals can drive and carpool and the team can save on bus costs.

“Our goal,” Parr said, “is for all of us to be able to play here so that we don’t have to go to Orange County, so that we don’t have to go to San Diego County.”


Remaining boys lacrosse schedule for area schools


8 — Fallbrook at Chaparral, 5:30 p.m.; Temecula Valley at Mission Viejo, 7 pm

9 — Norco at Vista, 7:30 p.m.

10 — Laguna Hills at Chaparral, 5 p.m.

12 — West Los Angeles at Norco, 9 a.m.; Anaheim Servite at Great Oak, 2 p.m.

15 — Great Oak at Chaparral, 8 p.m.; Temecula Valley at Trabuco Hills, 7:15 p.m.

17 – Servite at Chaparral, TBA; Norco at LaVerne Damien, 7 p.m.

18 — Fallbrook at Temecula Valley, 7 p.m.; Great Oak at Rancho Santa Margarita Tesoro, 6 p.m.

21 – Chaparral at Capistrano Valley, 5:30 p.m.; Fallbrook at Great Oak, 8 p.m.

23 — Temecula Valley at Chaparral, 5 p.m.

25 — Great Oak at Temecula Valley, 7 p.m.; Chaparral at Valley Center, 7 p.m.

27 — Norco vs. St. John Bosco at Placentia El Dorado HS, 5:15 p.m.

28 – Chaparral at Los Alamitos, 6 p.m.; Temecula Valley at Yorba Linda, 7 p.m.

30 — Chaparral at Fallbrook, TBA; Huntington Beach Edison at Temecula Valley, 7 p.m.


2 – Huntington Beach Marina at Chaparral, 5:30 p.m.; Solana Beach Santa Fe Christian at Temecula Valley, 7 p.m.

3 – Santa Clarita Hart at Norco, 10 a.m.

6, 8, 10 – Playoffs, TBA (Championship at San Clemente)

Visited 3 times, 1 visit(s) today