The Stories That Matter Most To The Utah Lacrosse Community

Bicker's Soap Box: Rumors in the Community

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 PDFEditor’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.

  1. Although I am aware I am labeled as a ULA supporter, which I am, my hope in writing this article is to get everyone to consider and question what they are hearing from both the ULA and UHSLL. Take the time to consider what is best for the players, team, and community. There are pros and cons on both sides of the high school league and my hope is that both sides can work together to provide the best experience for the high school players and continue to grow the game in a positive and healthy way.

  2. Drew,
    I am as aproficent writer as many, but I have an opinion.
    Thanks for good viewpoint on the sanctioning. I am not too sure it is the cure-all either. I guess time will tell when they finally get to it in a number of years. 

 I hope that The Five or so years the UHSAA is predicting is not the case.
    I am sorry to say to say that the Soapbox this time does look like an advertisement for the ULA. I agree that they have helped lacrosse in Utah but in your own words “the true growth comes from the individuals working with that program”.
    The League, any league, needs to use the resources the best they can to help the programs. 

You also stated correctly “Your player’s fees help fund these ventures”.
    Leagues are like any other service, they should provide a comprehensive and customer driven service. Apparently, there are a good number of programs that don’t feel they are receiving those services. I know that people like to look at the leagues of many non-sanctioned sports like they are quasi-government entities, entitled to your money because they are THE organization. Why? They are services, nothing more. They offer or don’t offer the best solution for your program. Why does this matter? Simple, my viewpoint is not that it is the ULA that is growing the sport by the fees that programs pay that is growing the sport. I contend that any responsible leauge can provide support if it is given the fees and provides the resonable services.
    Apparently there are a significant number of large programs, both DI and DII questioning whether the current leauge does service the community of lacrosse or not. That is not a rumor. If it were there would not be such an exhaustive effort in addressing it.
    The examples of how the current League has Grown the Sport are a little misleading.
    There are some very valid things the current leauge does. However adding “facilitates many leagues, hundreds of teams, thousands of players” to the list is not exclusive to the ULA. In addition the ULA collects fees for doing these, much like other youth league lacrosse leagues in Utah. So I guess there are two youth leagues growing the sport in Utah? That’s a benefit of two leagues I guess.
    “Paying coaches, post-season awards, all-star and
    championship games…” If I recall, these are fees, for the most part, that
    the programs have already paid to the 
ULA, not money that the ULA just pays
    out. At least it is that way in the programs I know about. The gate fees
    that the ULA will collect for the All-Star and Championship games pay for
    those. How does that “Grow the Sport”?
    As far as
 giving grants and helping new and struggling team, I agree that is needed and a very good thing. Again, I am sure that it is the fees from the teams that facilitate this. I would think that any organization that receives money from fees and uses it to help the programs is simply doing what they should to do. This is nothing
    special to grow the sport. I give you money, with fees, understanding that a
    portion goes out to teams that need help. The league distributes my fees.
    Nothing benevolent about that. 

    Rental Gear? Are you referring to the rental gear that they use fees to buy and then charge to rent out? How does that Grow the Sport? I guess that means that places that rent gear grow the game more than the ULA since they INVEST THEIR
 OWN MONEY to buy the gear and then rent it? 

    As far as salaries goes. I don’t know that I care. I can see where there could be some confusion. The release of the higher amount and the a correction. No problem there. Rumor successfully squashed.
    So, of all the rumors these are the ones about the ULA you want to dispel. There are
    much larger rumors anyone could have a good go at. These seem pretty benign and
    safe. How about the voting proceedures on the coaches council. I have heard that a few times. What about the spending fiascos that people resigned over? I heard that one too. Those topics are not too safe. They are also not easily ” double check claims”. Still rumors.
    As for the “break-a-way high school league”. If anyone thought when you wrote this
    that it was still a rumor then they need to follow your advice “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”. If anyone was at the meeting in the ULA offices about BLACKOUT they would know, with all the posturing going on in that room, that it was NOT a rumor. I haven’t witnessed such a display by the staff of the ULA since the last convention they held. over 90 minutes on the benifits of the ULA and 30 minutes on the Blackout? If you dont beleive me check the agenda. The paid moderator handed it out.
    I would guess that if you called actually called around, did some “know how” and “where to look to double check claims” that you would discover that it is very real.
    If I were looking into rumors of the Utah High School Lacrosse Leuage I would
    call someone from that league. It shouldn’t be hard to find them ask anyone at
    the ULA.

    1. What counts as growing the game?
      – offering free player clinics
      -conducting PE classes
      – providing coaches education
      – giving grants to teams
      – working with programs to establish strong boards
      – helping teams fundraise
      – meeting annually with the association of athletic directors
      – running officials trainings
      – facilitating 3 state teams from Utah
      – offsetting the cost of coaches to attend the national convention
      – offsetting the fees for all-American showcase players
      – representing lacrosse in the state legislature
      – working with K-3rd graders every Saturday
      Apparently, these things don’t count towards growing the game. I’m unsure what ideas you have that qualify as “growing the game.” It seems that if you aren’t in charge of it, it doesn’t count. Kudos to those people spending their time without an agenda for their own kid or their giant coaching ego.

    1. Please remember this is an opinion piece. I am not compensated by Utah Lacrosse News and all my columns are my own opinions. ULN covers all lacrosse in Utah regardless of league or gender and they do a tremendous service to the growth of lacrosse in Utah

    2. I reached out to the UHSLL yesterday requesting an article. I was told I would have one by the end of day today. Email me if you want to put your opinion on the site: I will also argue that this site seems pro ULA because that has been the only high school league until now. (We don’t cover youth lacrosse, hence no GULL presence) Please email the founders of the UHSLL and ask them to tell you what I told them at their meeting last week before you do what this article condemns…spread rumors. Also, I apologize for forgetting to add the disclaimer on this piece (now added) that states: ‘The views and opinions expressed in this article are the respective
      author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Utah Lacrosse News,
      which seeks to publish a diverse range of perspectives in the Utah
      lacrosse community as a whole.’

      1. What was the rumor? It is fairly obvious Mr. Bicker has one purpose here and that’s to promote the ULA. That’s not a rumor, thats a statement he doesn’t even deny.

          1. Reading Mr. Bickers columns and comments, thats not a rumor. A weak disclaimer doesn’t change that. You yourself say, ” I will also argue that this site seems pro ULA because that has been the only high school league until now.” I can’t stand the ULA. As a parent I have personally spoke to them and heard their tone as if to say, “where else will you go play”. I now have that answer.

          2. As I said, I am not sponsored by ULN in any way. They provide me, and anyone else, a forum to publish opinions and experiences in the Utah lacrosse community. If you want to provide an opinion about All-Utah, UHSLL, or your team, I’m sure Tim would be all ears. The more people that are involved in the Utah Lacrosse community the better. But don’t make claims that a site that provides incredible opportunity and support is biased.

          3. So unless you agree with it Drew, don’t post it? It is my OPINION they are giving you a forum for your biased point of view. It is also my opinion that the ULA has operated as a monopoly long enough. Keep defending and those of us that think you are up in the night have the right to tell you so. Thanks!

          4. Your original comment said that ULN is biased towards the ULA to which I claim that is a rumor. I did say the site ‘seems’ pro ULA. That is because it has been the only organization to run a high school league, therefore, if my site only covers high school leagues, it would appear that the site is pro ULA. As the new league continues to develop, we will continue to track it’s progress and cover it’s games just as we have done for the ULA in the past. I just talked to the UHSLL who said I can expect an article on Monday. Also, feel free to express your opinion in an article of your own. Send it to and as long as it’s not slanderous or libel, I will publish it.

  3. I find this development in the lacrosse community very interesting. The ULA, for the most-part, has done a good job in promoting the game of lacrosse in the state. But there have been rumblings for years of inconsistencies in application of ULA guidelines or whatever you call them.
    Now that a league is ready to split from the ULA, essentially taking most of the larger programs in the state with it, the ULA is scrambling to rectify a situation that has turned sour. I applaud the current effort, but shame on them for waiting so long.
    I’ve known quite a few coaches quit because of the ridiculousness of the coaches council. Biased and unserving, the coaches council was and is a ploy to empower certain programs and ignore others. Yet, these issues have been brought to the ULA board of directors and have been swept under the rug. Now, some of the same coaches that were on the coaches council are entering a new league. This makes me hesitant about the new league also. If the governing board is ran differently in the new league, this will provide better opportunity for up-and-coming programs. If it’s ran like the last council, well then it does seem like an entire money/power grab.
    In regard to growth. I think the GULL is a prime example of another league in the state growing the game better than the ULA. I don’t think the GULL has undercut the ULA in any way by providing an alternative service, but has increased the amount of youth praticipants in the state. How is this a bad thing? I see a new high school league as a good thing if it gives the same alternative opportunity.
    Please educate me on this last topic. I understand that in other states back east, there are many high school leagues that all operate under their state lacrosse association. Is this true? Then how is the ULA taken out of this? Please inform me so I can be more educated in this matter. Thanks.

  4. Fact: The ULA should have acted, but instead, they reacted. They have painted themselves into a corner, almost forcing schools to move away from them. Making others bleed is not the way to stop your own bleeding. They have reactionary individuals in key leadership roles and this is weakening the ULA at its core.
    Fact: In the past week ULA has slandered schools, coaches, parent organizations and individuals. Using a system of strategically placed rumors, they have made accusations, justifications, rationalizations and done little to attract wavering schools. Strong schools with talented kids are realizing they have no chance of being treated fairly if they must return to the ULA. The schools that have expressed a desire to move toward the new league will be blacklisted no matter which way this thing goes. These schools have zero motive to come back to “the family.” The ULA has perpetrated the destruction of what was supposed to be an opportunity for change and now NONE OF US have a good option.
    Fact:The ULA did accomplish one thing this week, they have PROVEN themselves to be an untrustworthy organization with weak leadership. Its unfortunate. Had our illustrious ULA actually been interested in maintaining the integrity of the High School structure instead of trying to pit us against each other and fighting against the changes that many of us have requested for years now, we all would have found ourselves in a different situation. The focus should have been on commonality, not throwing insults at programs, coaches and parents for desiring something better. We need people who make better choices leading Utah Lacrosse.

  5. It seems Drew Bicker has been mislead by someone at the ULA that there
    are rumors about Lisa’s salary. Its my understanding that people were
    not talking about her salary but someone had made a comment to possibly
    only one person, not it a rumor fashion. I heard this person actually
    wrote a letter to Lisa explaining this. It is also possibly came from
    the girls program side (but this is rumor, haha). This occurred days
    before the published article. The innuendo that Drew Bicker made, is
    the inappropriate comment came from someone trying to make the ULA look
    bad saying “Rumors that depict mismanagement of funds or extreme
    compensation are a bullying tactic used to sway a persons feelings” and
    clearly that never occurred and the folks at the ULA know that it never
    occurred. Its a pretty good shock tactic and I will admit I made a snap
    judgement, which is exactly what the ULA wanted me to do. My feeling is
    that this comment made us all point fingers at each and did nothing more
    than stir the pot. A letter has been circling the lacrosse community
    sent by the ULA stating the break away programs are spreading this very
    rumor. I guess the only people spreading and growing this rumor are now
    using Drew Bicker to do it. Poor Drew. Just an observation.

  6. My intention with all my comments and couple articles this past month or so, has been to open a conversation instead of continuing the talks behind closed doors, and to ask people to question what they are hearing from BOTH sides. When you hear a claim, ask why or how. That is all I’m asking.
    I support the growth of the game, which I believe starts at the youth level, and will be strengthened when lacrosse is a UHSAA sanctioned sport. What I wish would happen is that the ULA and UHSLL would figure out a way to stay combined because I think splitting weakens the position of sanctioning. And if I’m wrong, please tell me. As far as growing the number of youth players, the ULA and GULL have been doing a great job. As always, in order to continue to grow, both leagues need more coaches and officials.

  7. Drew, thank you so much for posting the links to all of the tax information. It was good to see that soccer revenue had increased every year as opposed to lacrosse revenue that actually decreased. Guess that soccer exec is earning his pay. Its also probably comforting to know how much the ULA spends on travel (and its a whopping number) because I am sure we are saving ourselves at least a little money by putting the our exec director and our regional rep in the same room. After all, they are husband and wife. Not sure which part of all the travel is supposed to be part of the Chapter responsibilities as opposed to the League responsibilities but its all in the name of “growth.” right? I for one would prefer to have a say in whether a trip to talk to “other organizations” actually helps Utah Lacrosse at all, but I am sure that there was some benefit. I am sure we are all fine with our kids dues going to support certain perks that the ’employees’ at the ULA receive. Its smart to keep pay to a minimum and expenses to a maximum. After all, any of us who have ever paid taxes know that we are taxed on our income and don’t have to pay a dime on the lunch that our bosses brought in on their dime, nor are we taxed when he sends us to a meeting that he thinks would be beneficial to the company. The problem is that the same person who brought in the lunch, is also eating the lunch and gets to decide which across the country meetings are going to help “OUR” endeavors. At least thats what it says on the forms that you provided the link to. I could be wrong.

    1. I called the ULA to ask about travel. Did you know that the three national chapter teams and all of the officials mileage are in that line item? Every time an official travels to a game and the ULA pays their mileage, that is travel. Just thought you might want to call and ask some questions. It seems like you have a very personal vendetta against the staff at the ULA. It is too bad that you attack them on a message board with no name rather than call and talk to them. I find information to be a much more valuable tool than slander. Kudos to them for taking the high road.

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