VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Virginia Beach City Public Schools leaders are paving the way for more athletes to play.
This week, the school division became the first in Hampton Roads to add varsity lacrosse to its high schools.
“Lacrosse has been the fastest growing sport in the United States for probably a decade now,” said Hampton Roads Lacrosse League President Mark Keller.
The school board recently voted to offer boys and girls varsity lacrosse teams starting in the spring of 2023.
It’s a victory for dedicated club teams across the 757.
“This has been years of people giving their time, money, coaches, assistant coaches, program managers, mom and dad,” Keller said.
Keller said The Hampton Roads Lacrosse League started in 1996. He said joining an interscholastic team opens more doors for players.
“For college recruiting, you have to play club ball around here to get looked at,” Keller said. “And that is expensive.”
Increasing school pride is an added bonus.
“It’s really important in extracurricular activities and athletics -- it does connect kids to their school,” said VBCPS Superintendent, Dr. Aaron Spence. “There is so much clear research on that, that it helps them feel a sense of belonging in their building and that is something that is really important to us in Virginia Beach.”
Estimates from a school board presentation show adding the sport will cost the division more than $500,000 a year. It shows startup costs would hit more than $800,000.
Spence believes it’s an important investment.
“We can’t wait, can’t wait to compete at the region and I don’t think it will be long before Virginia Beach is bringing home state championships in lacrosse,” Spence said.
Now, Spence and Keller hope more divisions jump on the bandwagon.
“We still have a lot of work to do,” Keller said. “A lot of people are excited about this, I am as well. But now we have to get everybody else there.”
Spence said starting in the spring of 2023 gives schools time to prepare and get equipment. Division officials also said they will have five synthetic turf fields installed by then.