Rumors can destroy good things before a blink of an eye. Rumors have ended friendships and organizations. Over the past 4-5 years I have truly enjoyed becoming more involved in the Utah lacrosse community. I have met some really great people who are doing amazing things for the sport. However, I have been (un)fortunate enough to see a few, let’s call them, bad eggs. Whether it’s the overzealous parent, the elitist coach, or the gossiping player, every community will have some bad eggs. Issues arise when those bad eggs spread rumors and push agendas to people who don’t know how or where to look to double check claims. I’m going to address a few rumors or claims I’ve heard:
Rumor 1: Sanctioning lacrosse will solve all our problems.
I’m not sure if that’s completely true. However, I do think sanctioning would be good for the sport overall. There are many positives to sanctioning such as on campus field access, transportation, cost reduction, out of state play, and school recognition. But, once lacrosse is sanctioned, the sport will be held to the rules and discretion of the UHSAA. Field access on campus will be great, but both boys’ and girls’ lacrosse will have to split field time with other spring sports, such as boys’ soccer. Facility access in the winter will be split with wrestling and basketball. Coaches’ pay will certainly decrease across the board. Unless the team can raise funds to supplement the amount paid to the staff by the school, many coaches will receive less than what they are making now at the high school level. Then I’d be interested to know classifications work? 5A, 4A, 3A?? Are there more state championships? Has the economy recovered so much that there will be enough funding for lacrosse and is the legislature ready to allow sanctioning sports again? What role will parent boards have for the each team? These are just a few questions I have. When you hear someone say lacrosse should be sanctioned, please ask, “why”?
Rumor 2: The ULA doesn’t do enough to grow the sport.
When I hear this, I want to ask, “What would you suggest they do to grow the sport?” The staff of four run an organization that facilitates many leagues, hundreds of teams, thousands of players from St. George to Idaho. They host US Lacrosse coaches’ training, referee training and parent board training. The fees received from players are used to pay for fields, referees, paying coaches, post-season awards, all-star and championship games, league administration, etc…. The remaining amount goes into a pool to fund grants for new teams, scholarships, player and coach clinics, youth rental equipment, and more. They have tried to hold playoff games at “newer” lacrosse schools in an attempt to grow exposure in those areas. The staff has been teaching gym classes in elementary schools trying to get a stick in kids’ hands who otherwise wouldn’t have had the chance. Your player’s fees help fund these ventures. There is only so much that money does for a new or struggling team, the true growth comes from the individuals working with that program. Establishing a strong parent board and youth program are essential for developing a strong program.
Rumor 3: The ULA staff makes a ton of money.
I overheard a rumor that Lisa Schmidt, the Executive Director, is making $80k per year. This is FALSE. She makes $48,000/ yr and she doesn’t get benefits. Also, I heard Bryan Frates, the boys’ program coordinator, was making $60k? I almost choked because I was laughing so hard. However, many people don’t know and take that rumor at face value and make a judgement. Rumors that depict mismanagement of funds or extreme compensation are a bullying tactic used to sway a persons feelings.
By the way, here are some facts:
$188,797 – Executive Director of US Lacrosse (2011 990 PDF)
$105,199 – Executive Director Salary average for Utah Non-profit 750K-1Million budget, The Compensation Report: An analysis of Utah nonprofits 2012, Columbia Books.
$99,271 – Executive Director of UHSAA (2011 990 PDF)
$82,512 – Executive Director of Utah Youth Soccer (2011 990 PDF)
$48,000 – Executive Director of the Utah Lacrosse Association (Lisa Schmidt) (2011 990 PDF – Editor’s Note: The 2011 990 for the ULA states that Schmidt made $52,459. Schmidt told ULN that the 2012 form is going through an amendment and that she will receive $48,000 for the 2013 year. )
Rumor 4: The formation of a new high school league.
There are rumors, although now I think they are more than rumors, of a break-a-way high school league. I am disappointed with the separation because I think the separation weakens lacrosse as a whole in the state. I’m interested to see what the mission of the new league will be. Will they be able to provide more opportunities for players, coaches, officials and team parents for a better price? Why weren’t all high school teams in Utah invited? What rules will govern this new league? Will they be recognized by US Lacrosse? Will they support the girls’ teams as well? Will they require their coaches to be US Lacrosse level 1 and PCA certified? Will coaches be held to background checks? Will the league continue to attempt to grow lacrosse by providing instructional clinics, equipment, and grants to new programs? Will they support growth at the youth level? If sanctioning is a goal, how does splitting the league help? There are so many questions, and this is all happening so fast, it will be interesting to see how things go. If the league can in fact grow the number of new programs, find a way to strengthen the argument for lacrosse to be sanctioned, grow the number of youth picking up a lacrosse stick, and increase the pool of coaches and officials, I’m all for it.
I love this sport and I’ll continue to give as much as I can to help this sport grow in a positive direction but it gets harder and harder when I see so many people become divided because of rumors being spread behind closed doors. The last thing we want, as a lacrosse community, is to be seen in the same light as club and high school soccer. Hopefully with this article more people will question what is being told to them by both the ULA and UHSLL and use common sense to weed out the rumors. Help keep the drama out of lacrosse by not spreading rumors.