PSHS hoping to add lacrosse in 2018-2019 school year
Next spring, students at Philip Simmons High School may pick up something different than a bat and ball, tennis racquet or golf club when it comes time to play sports for the Iron Horses. They may be able to play lacrosse.
The school’s athletic department has submitted a request to the Berkley County School District to fund a lacrosse program for both boys and girls in the next school year. School officials, students and parents believe there is sufficient interest to allow the school to field two teams, perhaps at the varsity level, next year.
“We want to go ahead with it, it’s strong on my radar,” said Brion Packett, assistant principal for athletics at PSHS. “The district is very supportive but we have to look at everything: student interest, field space, logistics.”
Patience Whitlock, a parent who is actively supporting the drive, said she is “90 percent confident there’s enough interest.” Students at three schools – Daniel Island School, Philip Simmons Middle School and Philip Simmons High School – were surveyed to determine how many would be interested in playing. Whitlock said the responses indicated that there should be enough players to field both boys’ and girls’ teams, which would require somewhere between 15 and 25 players.
Whitlock said many of the prospective players are already playing the sport for various youth and independent teams in the region. A group of girls are holding regular practices on Daniel Island now, in anticipation of the chance to play at Philip Simmons, she said.
“There are kids who don’t play basketball or other sports,” added Whitlock. “But they love lacrosse.”
They’re not alone. According to the latest annual report by U.S. Lacrosse, the sport’s national governing body, the total number of participants on organized teams in 2016 climbed past 825,000. It marked the 12th consecutive year that the net increase in players was at least 20,000. Lacrosse continues to be the fastest-growing team sport at the high school and collegiate levels.
According to Whitlock, U.S. Lacrosse has agreed to provide a grant of more than $10,000 to buy gear for the teams, contingent on the school initiating the program and forming rosters. That would help alleviate one of the major concerns about adding lacrosse to the athletic department - cost.
Packett outlined the likely expenditures for a lacrosse program in its submission to the district: equipment, travel expenses and fees. Philip Simmons would be the only public school in Berkeley County to field lacrosse teams, he noted.
“Travel is a significant cost for all sports. But the sport is growing and more schools in the Tri-County area have teams which makes travel less expensive (than in past years).”
Daniel Island School and Cainhoy Elementary School also received grants from U.S. Lacrosse, which will allow both schools to introduce students to the game. Packett said with the feeder system from those schools, “we can move forward to that decision time and determine if we start at JV status or varsity status.”
The lacrosse teams would play on the school’s football field but finding fields for practice could be an issue and, according to Packett, require the use of fields at other schools in the system.
Packett said the lacrosse program, if initiated, would be held to the same standards as any other sport at the school. “One of our core values is high expectations, on the athletic field and in the classroom. A whole lot of work goes into that.”
Whitlock remains very confident: “One way or another, we’ll have the sport.”
“The more students involved in extracurricular activities, the higher the grades and the greater their involvement in school,” added Packett. “We’re going to do everything we can to make that happen with lacrosse.”
Packett expects to hear a response from the school district in the coming weeks.