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So You Want to Start a Team...

The IHSLA encourages and supports new members in the league as part of its mission to grow the game of lacrosse. If you think you want to start a team at your school and join the IHSLA, you might want to consider a few things:

  1. Talk to your Athletic Director.

    Even if you plan on creating a parent-funded club, your athletic director needs to be involved. The AD might be a valuable resource for field time, transportation, and advice on insurance and liability.

  2. The Athletic Director must sign the IHSA Emerging Sport Agreement

    This agreement is not a trivial detail. The IHSLA defers to the IHSA for enforcement of all rules and regulations regarding eligibility, season limits, coaching contact restrictions, scholarships, and number of games allowed, among other issues. By signing the IHSA Emerging Sport Agreement, your Athletic Director commits to following all IHSA rules and bylaws for the sport of lacrosse (even if the athletic department doesn't sponsor the sport). Failure to comply with the IHSA rules puts all the school's sports programs in jeopardy, not just lacrosse. Therefore, the athletic department must maintain some level of control over the administration of the program.

    There are many rules in the bylaws of the IHSA which are not intuitive and are often ignored by teams which are in their early stages of organization. For example:

    • Teams may not allow players from other schools to practice or participate in games with the team.

    • Teams may not play against clubs which have not signed the IHSA Emerging Sport Agreement.

    • Scholarships may not be provided to players other than through the school's need-based scholarship awards.

    • Teams may not pay for players to go to camps or clinics which are not part of the school-sponsored program.

    • Coaches may not coach teams in the off-season during the school year which contains more than 5 players from the school team.

    • Open gym or conditioning sessions outside of the IHSA-defined season may not be coached by a staff member of the school team.

    The administrators for your team must become familiar with these and many other restrictions. For a full list of the IHSA rules and bylaws, go here.

  3. Funding

    Funding is always a key issue when starting a team. Many teams expect the players to purchase some of their personal gear, especially if they will be using it outside of the school program. Such personal items are sticks, protective gloves, elbow pads, shoulder pads, mouthguards, and cleats. These items are typically purchased once and used for all four years of competition.

    Teams typically will need to find funding (either private or from the school) for the player gear which is part of the team uniform, such as helmets, jerseys, and shorts. The team will also be responsible for the administrative costs of running the program, such as coaches' salaries, field rental fees, transportation to away games, and officiating expenses for home games.

    Below is a list of typical expenses for a competitive lacrosse club.

    Personal Gear:

    Stick: $50-$150
    Protective Gloves: $75-$150
    Protective Shoulder Pads: $50-$100
    Protective Elbow Pads: $30-$75
    Mouthguard: $15-$30
    Cleats: $50-$90

    Team Gear:

    Helmet: $100-$200
    Competition Jersey: $75-$100
    Competition Shorts: $25-$50

    Administrative Expenses:

    Coaches' Salaries - Varies, contact athletic director
    Bus Transportation - $300 per away game
    Field Rental - Varies, contact athletic director
    Referrees - 3 referees x $65 each per home game

  4. Scheduling

    The IHSLA conducts a scheduling meeting in September every year to provide a venue for coaches to get together and schedule their upcoming spring season. If you are planning to join the IHSLA for the first time, it is in your best interest to have the details of the program nailed down by the time the scheduling meeting arrives so you can plan your game schedule with the teams in your conference.

  5. Officiating

    Officials are not assigned by the IHSLA. Each team in the IHSLA has the option to contract either the Illinois Lacrosse Officials Organization (John Vettor) or Rock Valley Officials Assocation (Pete Ducato) to referee their home games. The IHSLA does not control the officials organizations in any way. All officiating activity is accomplished through an independent contract between the team and the officials organization.

  6. League Fees

    The IHSLA charges teams a fee to pay for administrative expenses and post-season awards. Fees are collected during the scheduling period from September to November prior to the spring season. Fees in 2014 were $50 for the first team, $25 for each additional team. For example, a team fielding a Frosh/Soph, JV and Varsity team will pay $50 + $25 + $25 = $100 in league fees.

  7. League Restrictions

    The IHSLA defers to the National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) rules for boys lacrosse. This rulebook is the guide by which the games are officiated. The IHSLA defers to the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) for rules regarding eligibility and participation. The IHSA is the same organization which governs Illinois high school basketball, football, soccer, tennis, and other popular sports in our state.

    The only restrictions placed on teams by the IHSLA are:

    • First-year teams in the IHSLA are restricted from playing varsity. The highest level at which a new team may participate in their first year is JV. In this first year, seniors are encouraged to play on the JV squad. This restriction may be waived by the President of the IHSLA if the team is deemed to have fielded a competitive varsity-level team in a previous league.

    • First-year teams in the IHSLA must begin competitive play in the B-Division. Teams which win the B-Division Championship (Lacrosse Cup) are automatically moved into the A-Division. B-Division competitors may also petition to move up to the A-Division without winning the Lacrosse Cup. Only A-Division teams may compete for the Illinois State Championship.
Good luck with your new program. If you have any questions, please contact us.