The fastest sport on two feet has sprinted from the east coast to the west in record time. Utah has been blessed to have the game introduced, developed and expanded by amazing individuals both talented at lacrosse and passionate about its growth. The Utah Lacrosse Association (ULA) has represented lacrosse in a tremendous way here in the beehive state. As the Utah Chapter of the USL (US Lacrosse governing body), the ULA has represented, promoted, and ran lacrosse throughout the state in a fantastic manner. I am a proud product of the true growth of lacrosse here in Utah. I was introduced to lacrosse through ULA representatives, played in the ULA high school league and also participated in various tournaments and clinics ran by the ULA. I went on to play college lacrosse locally here in Salt Lake City and am now giving back to the lacrosse community by coaching a local high school team. I can truly say that I would not be where I am today if it was not for the ULA.
With that said, I find it important to show how lacrosse has truly grown here in Utah. I remember playing for Team Utah (which at the time, Team Utah was the only club/travel lacrosse team in the state of Utah). Solely supported and promoted by the ULA, Team Utah represented Utah lacrosse in many tournaments throughout the country. It didn’t take long for the growth in Utah to exponentially increase. New clubs and travel teams began to form at a rapid rate, which were not formed by nor affiliated with the ULA. These teams gave players options, and allowed Utah lacrosse to be represented in many forms throughout the country. These new travel teams have shown that there are individuals and groups of people who are confident in their abilities to independently run lacrosse outside of the ULA umbrella.
By now it has come to many players and organizations attention that there is a new boy’s high school league forming called the Utah High School Lacrosse League (UHSLL). This may seem daunting, rebellious, sporadic, or even unnecessary in many people’s eyes. It certainly seemed that way to me initially. However, as I continually contemplated the issue at hand, I came to a few realizations. First, the growth of Utah Lacrosse is key! As Drew Bicker phrased so perfectly in an article he recently wrote “In order to continue the positive growth of lacrosse, we, as a community, need to remove barriers to entry, improve the overall product, and bring more awareness and exposure for the game.” I couldn’t agree with these words more. I recognize that the ULA was 100 percent necessary to ensure and run a functioning high school lacrosse league. But as lacrosse has grown, groups of people have realized league organization and operations could possibly be run independently of the ULA. If this is not growth, I don’t know what is.
It saddens me to see some animosity occur between UHSLL and ULA. I don’t view the new league as a negative, nor do I look poorly on the ULA. I hope to one day see the UHSLL thrive and succeed. This could possibly free up ULA responsibility of “running” leagues, and allow for continued effort in “supporting and promoting” lacrosse here in Utah. Lastly, I feel the only way to grow the sport of lacrosse in Utah is to have harmony between all clubs, leagues, and organizations participating in lacrosse. Who knows, maybe one day we will see a plethora of club teams, an ample amount of independent tournaments, and multiple high school lacrosse leagues, of which all will be graciously supported and encouraged by the ULA as the growth of Utah Lacrosse increases.