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ULA To Hold Open Meeting For High School Programs Regarding Blackout

Utah Lacrosse AssociationIn an email sent to parent reps and coaches in the ULA boys and girls high school leagues, the ULA is requesting that each team bring a parent rep/president and a coach to attend a meeting on Monday, September 16, 2013 at 7:30pm at the ULA offices.
“This is a great opportunity for teams to come and express their concerns,” said ULA Executive Director Lisa Schmidt. “I hope teams will take the opportunity at hand and come and partake in this discussion.”
Ultimately the coaches council will make a decision when it comes to blackout, but an open format meeting to those invited is a special occasion and will be mediated by a neutral party who is unaffiliated in the lacrosse community.
Email from Bryan Frates to Parent Reps and Coaches:

On Monday, September 16, 2013, the Utah Lacrosse Association High School League will be holding an open meeting for all teams (boys and girls) to attend. Each program can bring a coach and a parent representative (president, team rep) to discuss the current blackout policy and potential changes. The Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA) has released their new blackout policy that is much lighter than their previous policy. Traditionally, the Utah Lacrosse High School League has been operating with blackout seasons that mirror those of sanctioned sports governed by UHSAA.
The meeting discussion will be run by a mediator unaffiliated with the lacrosse community in order to ensure an unbiased take on the discussion. The coaches council will be voting directly following the discussion and we strongly encourage you to attend to voice your opinion. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact the high school commissioner, Jon Elmen (jon@utahlax.org) or Executive Director, Lisa Schmidt (lisa@utahlax.org).
Open Blackout Meeting
Date: Monday, September 16, 2013
Time: 7:30pm
Location: The ULA Office- 676 Confluence Ave (4260 S), Murray UT
Please RSVP to bryan@utahlax.org so we can plan for the number of people attending.

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  1. UHSAA just released their new looser guidelines in June of 2013 … Change is coming and I personally dont think it is too late for the lax community to come back together and move forward to improve Utah lacrosse.

    1. Jeff
      Your ideas were good last night. I personally think there could be a few tweaks. The division is already there it just isn’t as blatant as the formation of two leagues. There are those that are treated differently and listened to differently and a lot of people can see it.

  2. Remember that the ULA only started in 1994 (meaning this spring season marks 20 years) with 5 teams. Last season I think there were around 43 boys varsity teams and 33 girls varsity (# of teams is a guess). Then there are JV, Soph/fresh teams. And that doesn’t count the hundreds of youth teams. All in less than 20 years meaning there is a bright future ahead if everyone makes positive contributions and can learn to work together. Divisiveness and personal agendas could lead to a downfall. This meeting opens a forum for everyone to knock off the backdoor talk and rumors regarding blackout. It will be good for the collective to be able to communicate openly. Maybe this will open up communication in the future on other topics as well, although not during this meeting otherwise I think I might miss the Utah vs byu game the following Saturday.
    I’m looking forward to seeing everyone at the meeting with an open mind and willingness to do what is best for the players, league and lacrosse community.

    1. The question here is haven’t the youth split? Couldn’t there be an argument that the youth split and now it’s time to try it at the high school level?

    2. Drew, little has changed in the bylaws or the infrastructure of the ULA since the 5 team beginning. The lack of change, and the unwillingness to make changes is no longer equitable. Programs must refuse to be a part of that system. The success of the ULA is not due to the organization of the ULA. Success can be attributed to the volunteer base of the programs that currently are part of the ULA. In 20 years time an A-Z document of how to begin a program, how to run a program, and how to grow a program, has never been established by the ULA. In fact, most of the people making the decisions at the ULA have NEVER even run a program. Many programs just limp along and somehow…get by, bordering failure. Its unacceptable. Our suggestions and complaints are rarely considered. The ULA will keep Utah at a stagnant and reducing pace because of the self interest that pervades its organization. There is justification for many schools to not even be part of a league, saving their programs and participants thousands. As a program, we arrange our own games, we supply and pay for our own venues to play on, we provide goals, tables, volunteers for stats and the list goes on and on. We just need officials which technically, we could just pay for. The bottom line….does the ULA even know what can make Utah Lacrosse better?? Are they so trapped by their own rules an narrow parameters that change would be impossible? The potential for a new league and the growth of this fantastic sport in Utah is huge. The UHSAA will no longer be able to refuse concessions in behalf of our sport if we present them with an equitable plan. Is the ULA working on any such plan??

      1. justvisiting- So breaking off a few D1 teams is the solution? Breaking away from a league who is; financially stable, with a board, with a coaches council, who is making new strides to work with the community, to form a new league with a few boys teams with essentially no rules is the beginning of a huge divide in Utah lacrosse. I don’t see how this divide will grow lacrosse in Utah. I have so many questions. What rules will the new high school league operate under? Will there be requirements for coaches. ie: background checks, PCA, Level 1? Will there be coaching clinics? Will the new league put money towards training officials? Will the new league be a part of US Lacrosse? Will they include girls? Will they include youth? How will they provide grants or money for new teams? Will they travel to elementary schools for gym class? If they push for sanctioning… how will they get the moratorium lifted at the legislature? How will they grow to reach the 50/50 rules? How will they meet Title 9 requirements? How will it be funded? How will the scheduling and conference breakdown work? How will on campus field time be split with soccer and other school sports?
        Going to the UHSAA with a divided sport, playing under different rules, will be a nightmare for them. What reason will they have to want to sanction lacrosse?

      2. So much has changed in five years. How can you say that nothing has changed? Have you done any research? The blackouts shifted three years ago so some boys could play in a tournament. There have been changes in everything from policies to even the location of the ULA. They absolutely support teams and get them off the ground and going. That is obvious if you ask a Roy, Herriman, West Lake team. It would be great to hear from those programs rather than the Alta’s and Olympus’ of the world who charge hundreds of dollars in team fees and pay their coaches thousands of dollars. I would like to see the finances of those organization and see how those dollars are spent. They seem to spend all of their time saying how hard it is for developing programs. What are they doing to support those programs? Running to the new league where they won’t have to?

    3. Drew, Come on give me a break the game has grown because of people within those programs it has absolutely nothing to do with the ULA don’t give them the credit they don’t deserve. When the ULA started with Soni yes she grew the game fostered the game by getting out and doing demonstrations. I don’t know that these are not happening now, but to say Olympus is where it is because of the ULA or Alta, Bingham Lone Peak the list goes on because of the ULA is a huge disservice to those people in those programs that have fostered growth and have shown an interest in growing the game.
      You talk about personal agenda. Last night was clearly a personal agenda of the ULA. Hey lets tell everyone we are having a blackout meeting and then spend the majority of the meeting talking about ourselves and how good we are. If you can’t see that then you may have the same personal agenda that they have and should take a step back and really think about what is good for the game!

      1. laxdadoutofcali, the ULA has been trying to grow new teams but as I’ve said in other posts, throwing money at programs doesn’t grow them, the people in those programs grow them. I agree, it is absolutely the people who grow the programs, the 250 or so volunteers, the 700 coaches, and the parents in those programs that have been thriving have done extremely well. I do know that the ULA has been trying to grow the game by sending Bryan and Niki to elementary gym classes, bringing out players like Matt Streibel for players and coaches clinics, and hold events like Laxival for girls. They are only 4 people trying to run an almost million dollar organization with about 8000 players. They can’t hold each team’s hand. They can try to provide the best product possible for all 8000 players, and if that doesn’t work for a few team then instead of breaking away, why can a solution not be brought to the table? There are several openings on the ULA Board, why not get on the board and help create new policies or bring up things that aren’t working?
        As far as Lisa talking about things the ULA provides- they have been under attack because so many people aren’t aware of what they provide and rumors are being spread. Taking the time to talk, especially to the NEW parents and coaches was worth the time, IMHO.

  3. The ULA has never shown an interest in listening to parents and coaches. It’s time for a change in leadership and I hope it comes soon. Competition is finally opening their eyes. CCLAX hits the nail on the head.

    1. In all of my dealing with the ULA, this just isn’t true. The ULA has a lot of responsibility. They have to look ten years into the future and make decisions that will best benefit the sport in Utah. In 20 years, they have grown the sport ten-fold. The ULA is still new is not perfect by any means, but acting like children and storming away when we can’t get what we want isn’t how we build the sport. In the end, it will crush the sport. The ULA can’t please everyone but it is important for us remember what the objective is and build towards that together not separately. It isn’t competition that is opening their eyes, they are backed into a corner, either try and keep everyone together or watch Utah lacrosse fall apart.

      1. I don’t know that looking 10 years into the future is the right thing to do. Shouldn’t the league evolve on a yearly basis? Competition is what makes America great. This country was founded because of people willing to flee into the unknown.

    2. Who do you think is the leadership? All policy is made by the coaches council, which is made up of coaches from each conference. The ULA leadership structure do not have a vote. If parents want to make a change, get with your coaches council rep and voice your concern. If you do not like what your rep does, get together with your fellow constituents, and appoint a new rep.
      That being said, why do the GULL people want to change the blackout dates? Do they want to change the dates, or get rid of the blackout dates all together? I can see points on both sides. Some coaches don’t want year round players, they want players to have time off, and to play different sports. Additionally, they don’t want to be coaching 12 months a year. But if your rival is playing year round, then to keep up, then so do you.
      Some also say that the blackout is there to show the UHSAA that the league is ready to step up. I don’t know if I agree with that. If they haven’t taken in lacrosse yet, then when will they? And I don’t think people realize just what recognition will mean. Head coaches will have to be school employees, and there will be more restrictions on out of state play.
      I look forward to seeing what happens.

      1. True, the coaches council is setup to act exactly as you have said, but are we sure it in fact works that way? I don’t know the answer, just simply putting that out there.
        I also know that the new league is beyond the GULL, meaning that it is a new entity separate from the GULL. It gets a little confusing because the leadership who are spearheading the new league are essentially the people who started the GULL but the new league (UHSLL) has already filed as a for-profit company under UHSLL, not GULL (or more PC correct, ALL-Utah).
        The blackout is only one of the issues that the new league wants to discuss. The blackout is a hotly contested topic, hence the need for a meeting from the ULA. People either love or hate the blackout in its current form. People who hate it say that it’s too strict and stunts player growth (skills, not height 🙂 ).
        Sanctioning – HC don’t have to be part of the school. However, someone on the staff of the team does have to be a staff member of the school. Out of state play will have more restrictions, true, but on the other hand, there are states where their sanctioned teams aren’t allowed to play non-sanctioned teams so sanctioning would open the doors to that (California teams!)

          1. I would say the ULA’s inability to start new teams or the blatant disregard for struggling programs. I might also mention that having to be a part of the ULA is expensive on players, too many registration fees

    3. I’d be interested to know what it is that parents and coaches want? Isn’t it about what is best for the kids? Don’t they want to play a fun sport, learn from educated and experienced coaches, officiated by knowledgeable officials? That’s about it, right? We, as adults, need to work together and keep the bickering and finger pointing out of it,otherwise the kids, because they’re not dumb, will catch on. The sport is becoming so political because some people think the grass is greener on the other side. Well, if everyone was trying to work together, instead of pursuing personal gain, we wouldn’t be here arguing, we’d be enjoying the fall and HS or youth players’ games.

  4. The point, is to grow lacrosse. You can argue that sport has grown under the direction of the ULA but how big of a hand did the ULA have in setting up those programs? They started without the help of the ULA and how about the teams that have folded? Why didn’t the ULA step in and nurture those programs? If this new league is willing to really kick start programs and start them and not let them fold, then they have my backing

    1. The ULA has many opportunities for new teams and I know they are always willing to help a new or struggling team who really wants the help. Beginning a high school program isn’t like building an Ikea bed. Different schools or areas have different needs. New programs can, and do receive, grants from the ULA. I’m pretty sure the grant money comes from player fees. Helping a team on the verge of folding takes more than money, they need players. The ULA can’t grow players. There are more kids playing lacrosse now than ever, once those kids get older they will need to play somewhere and there is your growth in the high schools. There is too much focus on high school programs. We need to continue to grow the youth and continue to provide lacrosse in gym programs at more schools. How can we make that happen?

  5. Jeff- I like your proposal. I think having the additional rules, pertaining to the club teams, on top of the UHSAA blackout rules serve an important purpose. Thank you for your hard work putting all the research together and presenting.

  6. I attended the meeting last night, now I know the meaning of “Bait and Switch”. It
    was an hour and forty minutes of the ULA talking about how good they are,
    peppered with philosophical and even blatant references to the two leagues
    splitting, and the a small discussion of blackout.
    Granted theresearch done on the blackout was good. I learned a lot from this portion. However, it was over shadowed by the kindergarten way they tried to collect
    data from attending members. I know that the argument will be “We wanted to
    know what the consensus was”. Really, you can get that from the famed Coaches Council? Which by the way apparently after the Blackout Meeting still did not figure it
    out. Can I have my 2+ hours of life back?
    All I got out of this was that the Chairpersons did not know either how many teams they serviced or what the exact role they played in the process. I also learned that
    no matter what the Coaches Council decides that the Administrators will do as
    they please anyway and disregard the Council. I learned that the argument
    against clubs is bogus. I learned that I was never told the Boys Programs and
    the Girls Programs were combined on the council. I learned that my Coach Representative never voted for the new commissioner, he was just installed. I learned that my players ULA dues for a PR firm to handle a meeting on Blackout.
    No wonder you have a group that wants to bail, with the exception of the Boys Commish, no one from the ULA addressed any of the issues I have heard floating around. The only thing was the drumbeat of don’t split the league.
    So I guess the question is “Why”? Why did I go? Why did I put a sticky on the board? Why doesn’t my coach, on the council, vote for a solution? Why is there so many teams that want to leave? Why do they want to leave? Why did we only get 30 minutes of the 2+ hours to talk about such a critical issue?
    So you can see how the Bait and Switch meeting last night just set more questions into motion. I know the zealots for both sides are going to come out of the woodwork and spin this. Frankly, I just know I spent too much time, with people who care to just find out that this will be renewed in the next meeting. ***** I for one am not attending.*****

    1. I am on the coaches council.. I pushed for the council to come up with a solution and I believe we did. We had to fight it out and we were in that room for another 1+ hour arguing. Eventually we came up with a plan, we wanted to submit that proposal to the rest of the coaches and give them the opportunity to give feedback on the proposal. I, to believe that the meeting was quite bogus but the coaches attempted, to the best of it’s ability, to come up with a logical solution and open it up for discussion with the rest of the state.

      1. I didn’t mean bogus, I meant long and full of information I already knew. Although, there were a lot of new people in the room that I’m sure found the information useful.

  7. All of this talk about supporting developing teams. Has anyone looked at what that really means? The ULA gave West High the money to apply for their 501c3 status this year and worked heavily with them to get their by-laws put together to ensure their stability. They also went to St. George to do free coaches and player clinics to help get the southern utah group going. That seems like helping developing programs to me. I get the impression that helping programs for this new group is really helping themselves and leaving the DII programs in the dust for the ULA to take care of getting them up and running. How many new teams this year? 3 or 4? what is the new group doing to help those teams right now?

    1. Excellent points made about by-laws. The ULA is very knowledgeable and helpful about how to organize a team board etc. I went to the organizational boot camp class Lisa taught at the ULA and it was incredible, albeit a little scary.

  8. By the way Bushard, I don’t understand why you are saying there wasn’t a solution to black out and it wasn’t figured out. I saw the proposal and got the email. Have you even looked at it?

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