In February 1998, after adding boys lacrosse, girls field hockey and coed swimming and crew to the ranks of varsity sports in Prince William County schools, Superintendent Edward L. Kelly and the School Board agreed--no more new sports. Too much staff time, not enough resources, they said.
However, the board found space for one more this week, adding girls lacrosse to the varsity sports lineup. The vote was 7 to 1, with Joan R. Ferlazzo (Dumfries) dissenting. The board had been heavily lobbied by a vocal group of girls lacrosse players and their supporters for three weeks before the vote. By adding the sport, the School Board went against Kelly, who said school staffs were too overworked to take on the additional responsibility.
"We are overloaded on activities," Kelly said. "More importantly, we're working the staff to death." Administrators already have too many sports to oversee, he said.
Lacrosse supporters, however, said that they were thrilled by the decision, and that they plan to form booster organizations to raise money to help with coaching and transportation.
"It's going to be great," said Ann Wisloski, 13, a freshman at Hylton High School who hopes to play for her high school team and in college. "It's challenging because there's no contact. You really have to watch what you're doing," she said.
Steve Claiborne, assistant boys lacrosse coach at Woodbridge High School, said he thought the constraints could be overcome.
"I'm glad they're finally doing it," he said. "At least now this offers the girls a pipeline to their high school team."
In making the decision, School Board members had to think back to their original intent when they added lacrosse to the varsity roster. Did they mean boys only, or lacrosse in general?
"In this case, I certainly didn't mean to exclude girls when I voted for lacrosse," said Lyle G. Beefelt (Brentsville).
Steven Keen (Woodbridge), who made the first motion at Tuesday's meeting to add the sport, said he thought the School Board had meant to add only boys lacrosse in 1998.
Keen said he supported the decision as long as the school system would provide some of the money.
"I was willing to support the addition of girls lacrosse if we funded it," Keen said. The School Board will appropriate $5,055 for each of the county's seven high schools to help pay for the new varsity sport.
Girls lacrosse has no contact, making it as different from boys lacrosse as baseball and softball. Also, female participants don't have a deep pocket on their sticks to hold the ball securely, so they must cradle the ball to maintain control. And though the size of the field in boys lacrosse is limited, the girls game technically has no boundaries.