County School Athletic Directors - Okaloosa, Walton, Bay Counties Florida
United States of America

Playing lacrosse is an amazing experience and an incredible opportunity for young student-athletes. In addition to improved physical health, participation in sports plays a positive role in youth development, including improved academic achievement, higher self-esteem, and fewer behavioral problems. Playing organized sports builds the five “C’s” in our youths - competence, confidence, connections, character, and caring - which are critical components of positive youth development. The many facets of playing a team sport - the discipline of training, learning teamwork, following the leadership of coaches and captains, learning to win (and lose) - provide lifelong skills for our young athletes.

At the high school level, lacrosse continues to be the fastest-growing sport in the nation. Just under 300,000 players compete on varsity, junior varsity, freshman and club teams. According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, from 2009 to 2014, a total of 551 schools added boys’ programs and 556 schools added girls’ programs. That resulted in a growth rate of 27.8% for boys’ lacrosse and 31.2% for girls’ lacrosse. No other sport had a growth rate above 10%.

Lacrosse is also experiencing solid growth at the collegiate level. In the NCAA from 2009 to 2014, men’s lacrosse grew at a rate of 37.3% and women’s lacrosse grew at a rate of 38.9%. Both of those figures were the highest among all NCAA sports in that time frame. A total of 39 schools added varsity programs in 2014 alone, with an additional 28 men’s programs and 37 women’s programs scheduled to begin play in the next 1-3 years. There are currently 9 NCAA Div I and Div II programs in Florida alone.

But the high school athletes of Okaloosa, Walton, and Bay Counties are being left behind. The Emerald Coast of the Florida panhandle has in recent years become renowned for the quality of athletes in the area, but remains one of the last areas to not offer lacrosse as a varsity sport to our high school boys and girls. A quick survey of the rosters of the current NCAA programs in Florida shows that only 17% of active players are from the state of Florida.

Let’s give the boys and girls in the Emerald Coast tri-county area the opportunity they deserve to participate in the fastest growing sport in America. Let’s give our young men and women a chance to further develop their personal and athletic skills. Let’s give our young athletes a chance to compete for the increasing amount of college scholarships available.

If you agree with these goals please support this petition to add boys and girls lacrosse programs to the NW Florida high schools in Okaloosa, Walton, and Bay Counties, and then forward to anyone else who, in your opinion, might share these goals.

We, the undersigned, call on the athletic directors of Okaloosa, Walton, and Bay County schools to add boys and girls lacrosse to their sports programs.

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The Add Boys and Girls Lacrosse to NW Florida Emerald Coast tri-county High Schools petition to County School Athletic Directors - Okaloosa, Walton, Bay Counties Florida was written by Emerald Coast Lightning Lacrosse and is in the category Sports at GoPetition.