Persistence pays off

School board votes to add boys lacrosse program at high school

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— After nearly two years of lobbying for the creation of a boys lacrosse team at Steamboat Springs High School, a community group sealed the deal Monday night.

"It was kind of like the rubber stamp," said Mike Knezevich, assistant high school principal. "There really wasn't much discussion at all."

Knezevich, a former college lacrosse coach, attended Steamboat's monthly school board meeting Monday night, where a unanimous vote was made in favor of adding boys lacrosse to the athletics program.

Knezevich, who coached lacrosse at the University of Colorado at Boulder for six years, has supported starting a boys lacrosse team at Steamboat Springs since 1999.

Steamboat already has a girls lacrosse team.

Two years ago, Knezevich was approached by a group of local high school students who wanted to form a boys team, he said.

Since that day, several meetings have been held involving administrators, students and parents.

On June 5, students, parents and other community members gave a PowerPoint presentation to high school administrators.

During the presentation, the group addressed 10 issues provided to them prior to the meeting by administrators.

Those issues included start-up expenses, availability of competition, maintenance expenses and strain on existing programs.

Knezevich, who was one of the administrators at the June 5 meeting, said the group's presentation was very convincing.

"We felt they had met all the requirements," Knezevich said. "The last step was to go to the school board."

Paula Stephenson, school board director, said it did not take long for her and her colleagues to reach a decision.

"Everyone seemed in favor of it," Stephenson said. "I know the high school set up 10 factors to examine the different sports with. Apparently, lacrosse met all the criteria they had set up."

Knezevich said the school is shooting to hire a boys lacrosse coach by early fall.

The Sailors boys lacrosse team will most likely compete in the Foothills Conference against opponents that include Kent Denver, Fort Collins and Columbine, Knezevich said.

There are only about 30 boys lacrosse teams in the state and just four conferences, he said.

Dan Birch, school board president, said the decision to add boys lacrosse was an easy one.

"I think we looked closely at what the administration said and whether they thought they could oversee the program to academic and athletic standards," Birch said.

Monday's decision comes less than two months after the latest attempt to start a high school hockey team was rejected by the school's administration.

Knezevich said there are several reasons why hockey has not been approved as a high school sport, while boys lacrosse has. Some of the issues that have not been resolved for hockey, he said, are crowd control, inadequate seating and strain on administration.

Knezevich said boys lacrosse will be a Tier Two sanctioned sport, which means it will not be funded through the school.

Other Tier Two sports at Steamboat Springs High School, Knezevich said, are golf, baseball and tennis.

With the addition of boys lacrosse, there are now 19 sports programs at the high school, Knezevich said.

He said it will cost about $18,500 for initial start-up expenses. About $6,500 has already been raised, he said.

Ryan Scheer, a prospective member of the 2002 lacrosse squad, said he was proud that his fellow students, and parents and community members, were successful in fielding a team.

"It was a joint effort."

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