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Utah High School Lacrosse Takes a New Direction

For Immediate Release – Utah High School Lacrosse League
The Utah High School Lacrosse League (UHSLL) is pleased to announce the creation of a new high school lacrosse league in Utah. The UHSLL was created to address the ever-changing challenges of the sport that are faced by many high school programs in the lacrosse community. The UHSLL was started with a core group of like-minded programs who felt like a change was in order to better facilitate the challenges that come with growth.
There are a few fundamental principles under which the UHSLL will operate:

  1. Empowerment of the program. Programs face a variety of challenges and need policies and processes that help programs grow. The UHSLL will instill this in the following ways:
    1. Simplicity – Every policy, operational process, financial transaction, council meeting, etc. will be met with this question first “Is this the best thing for the players?” By asking this question, we can mitigate over-policing, over-complicating issues, and over-taxing families’ resources.
    2. Transparency – All programs in the UHSLL will participate in creating budgets, determining player fees and reviewing financial information. The cost value proposition will be clear to all programs and the parents who pay for league services.
    3. Representation – All programs will have equal representation at the table. Programs; not just coaches, but parents and board members alike; will decide what is best for them and have their vote at the table: one vote per program.
    4. Clear, proactive communication – Decisions, issues, policy, and disciplinary discussions will be met with full documentation prior to a deciding vote. This again allows programs to be involved to the extent they wish on how a decision will impact them. And in a further effort to provide transparency, all meetings are announced, posted and open to the public. All minutes will be available for review.
    5. Inclusion – All high school programs, including girls programs, are invited to join the UHSLL. Appropriate competitive divisions will operate according the teams’ needs. Multiple divisions and levels (Division I, II, Varsity, JV, etc.) may exist to support any team.
  1. Growing the game. Our game is challenged with tremendous growth. While that may seem like an oxymoron, our growth is truly our biggest challenge. The UHSLL is ready to both support and foster this growth. A few items concerning growth include:
    1. Developing and/or up-and-coming teams. For the health of our sport the stronger teams/programs should have an interest in the up-and-coming teams. Whether that designation is by competitive divisions, economic realities, geography or organizational challenges; the UHSLL aims to provide resources for said programs that may be underutilized today. The experience in the programs involved in the UHSLL is plentiful and should be shared with others. Resources, both time and money, are always strained, but that does not mean we can’t find solutions to help provide.
    2. Sanctioning by the Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA). The UHSLL supports any strategic endeavor to get the state to recognize lacrosse as a state sanctioned sport. There has not been a published statement or strategy to that effect by any lacrosse organization to date, but the UHSLL sees this as a necessary step to continued growth. This is not a panacea whereby all the issues within the sport will be resolved, but it provides two key benefits: first, recognition of student athletes in their schools, and second, greater access to school resources and facilities. With the indefinite restrictions and moratorium on the sanctioning of new sports, the UHSLL will work together with any group to build a coalition of people and processes that can make a strong case to the UHSAA for sanctioning when the time comes.
    3. Support for officials – The UHSLL also supports any initiative to empower, train and recruit more officials. We have ideas and lend our support to this effort. Moreover we will support officials with logistics such as coordinated scheduling and standardized pay rates.
    4. Training of coaches – The UHSLL will create appropriate training qualifications for its coaches. Some options include: US Lacrosse certifications, background checks, medical certifications, etc. The programs will determine what minimum requirements coaches should have.
    5. Potential cost reduction for players – Lacrosse has a high-cost barrier to entry. The UHSLL will explore all options to reduce player cost. With very little overhead, cost saving opportunities are plentiful
  1. Consistency – Growth begets the need for consistency. A few specific applications include:
    1. Policy enforcement – Clear policies and procedures will provide consistency in their application. Each program has a voice in the creation and ratification of policy; hence, policing is easier as each program has a hand in its creation.
    2. Organization – The flat organization leads to input from various programs and consistency across levels.
    3. Rules – The UHSLL will follow all NFHS rules.
    4. Safety – The UHSLL will follow all required laws, NFHS rules, and US Lacrosse recommendations regarding player safety.
    5. Calendars and seasons – Traditional spring timelines will be used and published. Only traditional high-school boundary based teams will be allowed. No club or super teams will play in the UHSLL.
    6. US Lacrosse – UHSLL will require its members to be US Lacrosse members and receive all the benefits of such including: insurance, US Lacrosse grants, trainings, conferences, and awards. The UHSLL has confirmed and received commitments from US Lacrosse that we can participate in the US Lacrosse All-American awards and other benefits.

With these challenges it is clear that a structure had to be created that would utilize the talents of so many and address the issues that the teams face in all divisions. The UHSLL structure is “flat”. Meaning that every team has a vote and every program has representation. The power behind this is the reality of empowerment for the teams. The different teams and divisions no longer have to leave the representation to someone else. They can have a direct effect on the decisions. This will provide a better pulse on what is needed, liked and perfected.
We understand that some may question this approach and say “Why a new league?”. A simpler rebuttal question might be “Why not?”. Should the new be feared just because it is new? The programs involved are not new, but rather have had success and provided leadership throughout Utah’s lacrosse history. We hope to utilize these resources and experience to improve league operations. One specific concern that seems to arise is that creating a new league will impact our ability to become sanctioned. Will it? As noted in a meeting earlier this week from a UHSAA committee member, there is no clear path to sanctioning so how can we say that having two leagues has a negative impact? It could very well have the opposite. As noted above, the UHSLL is committed to work with any group to promote sanctioning by the UHSAA. There may be other “what if’s” being bantered about as is often the case when new options enter a community. Some specific questions may be answered on the FAQ section of the UHSLL website (which is a work in progress) at www.uhsll.org. The UHSLL understands that some will have opposing opinions. We welcome informed opinions just as we hope to form the same.
Please feel free to email director@UHSLL.org for any additional questions.


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  1. So if you strip away the buzzwords, the services that ULA already provides, and the nebulous promises of a glorious new utopian bureaucracy, you can distill the difference between the ULA and the proposed UHSLL down to one point – the UHSLL will facilitate direct voting for its member programs instead of using representatives. Ok, great. Not a bad idea.
    But wouldn’t it have been more constructive to work for that change inside of the existing governance first? Two weeks ago a lot of coaches, myself included, had no idea there was significant dissatisfaction with the ULA amongst some parties. No list of grievances was aired at the mandatory coaches meeting in January, nor at the all-state meeting in May. There were no blast emails or phone calls, either to the coaches or the parent board members, agitating for a change in the way ULA governs or a change in the personnel of the ULA.
    But yet the grievances that didn’t even warrant a prior public airing are apparently so serious now that an insurgency had to be recruited in secret and then sprung upon the other teams in the state – leaving everyone in the lurch, likely fracturing the state, and turning 2014 (and beyond) into a clusterfark. Which is not a good start to the USHLL’s “transparency” and “simplicity” bullet points.
    Can the ULA do some things better? Of course. Personally, I don’t understand why we start practice under a foot of snow so we can hold the state finals three weeks before school ends. But that’s something I’ll try to change within the existing framework.
    Going with the nuclear option should be the last option, not the first (or second). This is destructive.

    1. You wouldn’t ever see the emails. The coaches council was prohibited, whether self-imposed or by ULA, to never show those “email meetings”. A serious transparency issue.
      The coaches council minutes are supposed to be public according to the bylaws, but go look at Utahlax.org. Up until the last 6 weeks they were hardly ever updated. How are parents and coaches informed in the dealings of the ULA and coaches council? How is an email meeting any different than an in-person meeting?
      I would be pretty mad if i were you to only find out about the new league in a roundabout way, but I’ve heard it’s going to happen, so inquire with them if you’d like.
      I don’t think your description of “sudden insurgency” is accurate. For all the years I’ve been involved with the ULA their have always been a few coaches that just wished to create a different league, but numbers were few and fragmented. Why is it that this year all the fragments came together? I dunno. But I think another league will help break some of the old issues that teams, coaches, and players dealt with.
      From what I’ve gotten out of conversations with other coaches, this was the last option. Last option meaning all other avenues of reconciliation had been turned away.

    2. I think that your comments are great. People need to figure out why this happened. Comments like the ones posted here are one of the ways that gets done.
      There are some good points. The snow part in particular.
      The most critical point is this. The “insurgency” consists of a considerable amount of teams. It is not just two wayward coaches that decided one day to raise a flag of decent. It is a significant amount of teams, boards and parents. That seems like more than an insurgency. I would call it reformation of the old to the new.
      The fact that you didn’t know about it is probably the best argument you could make for the formation of a new league. For both DI and DII.
      Ask yourself this easy question. Why would over a dozen teams,
      maybe more, polarize into such a way as to alienate themselves if it does not
      work? That is what should concern you. It concerns me. That they felt so strong that nothing was changing or even progressing that they had to take the “nuclear option”.
      Your assumption of a clusterfark (nice modification) is a unfounded concern. The youth split a few years ago and they are flourishing. Why can that be the way of progression? Maybe it can’t, but you don’t know for a fact that it will go either way.
      As far as in “Secret”… well, can you blame them if that is the case? Look at the fallout once it was announced, Holy Fark. Meetings with ulterior motives, emails about outlandish requests and the occasional rumor of this and that. Again, ask yourself why? Why did they do it? I don’t know but I sure as fark would have. There is an old quote “While all deception requires secrecy, all secrecy is not meant to deceive.” Besides, if that many teams knew about it and the existing “bureaucracy” didn’t. Wow, no wonder it seems so secret. Maybe it wasn’t so secret at all.
      Besides, competition is always healthy. Look what it has done so far. The ULA has heard what people are upset about, I am afraid for them it is too little too late. The dye has been cast. This is happening. So, how do two groups make it work? Ask the ULA, They seem to have kept the youth running with another youth league in their midst. I am not saying the youth and the high schools are exactly the same but it is a closer example than the one presented.
      It is simple, either change or don’t. That’s not a doomsday comment. It is simply fact; both groups need to keep adapting to the circumstances
      and needs of the sport and its participants. Adapting to make the sport better, not the same.
      I still like the argument for the snow.

      1. It could be that this new league will do great things. That said, I agree with Neil that this really sounds like a mini-ULA. Same goals, same objectives, nothing really new except for different people in charge and a smaller footprint. If transparency is supposed to be the biggest difference, it sounds like they got started out on the wrong foot. We’ll see.
        All the above said, I still have yet to see anything that convinces me that something was so desperately wrong over at the ULA that carving off a few teams into their own league makes any sense. Certainly I hope that our kids’ high school team isn’t seriously considering making the jump. To those programs that are dead set on this course, I wish them luck.

    3. Neil- couldn’t agree more. I think it would have been more constructive to work to change within the existing governance first, however, it sounds like this split has been coming for some time from a few coaches/ individuals who were upset with the ULA.) I know that a few team are joining the UHSLL because they are following the competition and may not necessarily have an grievances with the ULA. I also agree that many coaches were unaware of the new league until the meeting.
      I think it has opened the eyes of the ULA, and it’s my hope that they fix the issues. (ie: updating blackout, restructuring the coaches council) There must be other issues because those seem fairly easily fixable, and not enough to cause the split, but I’m sure the ULA is aware and will work to fix the leaks.
      Since the split is happening, I hope the UHSLL is successful. Taking the words from a wise man, “I’d hate for players/teams to just be driven back and forth like a tumbleweed in the wind.”
      As far as ending 3 weeks before the end of school, I certainly could be wrong, but I think it may have something to do with allowing the student/ athletes to focus on being students with AP tests and finals happening those last few weeks. I know on our team, almost all the seniors are either taking I.B. classes and/or AP tests near the end of the year. I don’t know if that is the main reason, but that’s my $.02.

      1. Most problems are easily resolved. When both sides are willing to sit down and listen. From what I have heard the ULA was very slow or non responsive to their concerns and have been for years. It would appear that initially the UHSLL was willing to talk, but the ULA wasn’t and now the ULA is willing to talk and the UHSLL isn’t.
        The days of telling your customers to “blank off” are long gone in corporate America and Lacrosse is no different. If two companies are providing the same product at the same price you go with the one who provides the best service. While the ULA is a “not for profit” company it has to be run with the discipline of a “private for profit” company and try to make every customer a fan or suffer the consequences.

  2. How much of this was spurred on by Marty and Renee being upset that the ULA didn’t stop running boys youth leagues after they established the GULL?
    yea, now we have split leagues for both youth and HS
    The ULA needs to stop running leagues and focus on what other US Lacrosse chapters do: educate, officiate and support

    1. I think it may be that they have had success at the youth level and it’s time to progress to the high school. The ULA should welcome the competition.

      1. I’m guessing you’ve hit the nail on the head here and I suspect that’s the real reason for the split as opposed to anything being so intractably wrong at ULA. These coaches have had some sort of modest success running their own show and would rather just call their own shots. Otherwise, I still have yet to hear any rationale for the split that makes any sense. Even this article side-slips a response with its “why not?” as an answer.
        If some coaches want to form their own league and run their own show, I think folks get it. Just don’t dress it up as if it serves some higher purpose. The bad mouthing of the ULA just seems in poor taste at this point.

        1. I don’t think they have bad mother the ULA at all. Other people have. As a person who dealt with the ULA, I have. But the ULA sure has gone out of their way to bad mouth them. The GULL has changed the expectation of customer service in lacrosse to where it appears someone is actually listening. The ULA could learn from them on that.

          1. I guess I’m not very close to it. From a parent’s perspective, it just looks like a Coke versus Pepsi sort of thing. I haven’t heard anything particularly great or bad about GULL. Nor except for some grousing on this site have I heard anything bad about ULA, and even then it seems to be more hyped up generalizations than anything that appears to have any substance. Personally, our own interactions with ULA have been limited, but we’ve found them very responsive over the years with any questions or concerns. I just worry that by pulling out schools from the ULA, the new league will produce two lackluster leagues rather than building on the good thing in place now.
            There doesn’t seem to be a very compelling “why” in play here. Again, this just seems to be about a few coaches wanting to run their own show. If that’s the deal, it’s not a very compelling case for the disruption involved at the high school level and the potential dilution of competition.

          2. A few coaches? 10 of the top 16 division 1 programs are moving. The ULA has a problem. I agree you must be out of the loop.

          3. Well educate us then. I think folks have been asking for any information on the new group: schools, policies, what’s going on, etc., and there’s only been selective and unhelpful replies. Usually the new guy on the block tries to put their best foot forward, but maybe that’s not how it works anymore….

          4. No it doesn’t. All that means is out of 43 boys high school teams, a few people who want to run their own league invited a few of the biggest teams, with money and established boards already, and took their ball to another playground, leaving the girls and perceived “weaker” teams.
            My hope is that the remaining teams in the ULA will continue to work together to improve the overall product in a constructive way, continue to help smaller teams grow their programs, and improve the overall competition throughout the league.

          5. That’s exactly what this looks like. While these folks have tried to dress this up with higher motives, it looks more like some of the “haves” are playing the part of spoiled children and have gone to play in their own sandbox. Kudos to those other established programs that have elected to stay with ULA and actually help build the sport and support some of the fledgling programs out there.

          6. And how many of those 10 (btw, its currently 8) are doing so because they’re hostages, and not because they have any problem with the ULA? Also, as of now, there’s not a single D2 program moving.
            He’s absolutely correct that’s its just a few coaches driving this.

          7. And when will the list of 8 teams that are moving to the new league be made available to the lacrosse community?

          8. I’m pretty sure everyone has to decide by Oct 1st (I don’t know if that’s a hard deadline though). As of today, the teams that finished 2013 ranked #2, #3, #7, #11, #12, #18, and #21 were leaving. Plus a new team.

          9. When UHSLL.org first started back up all the team’s logos were along the bottom of the page. That has since been removed. I’m not going to speculate on why. I’m sure there will be a list posted soon.
            It needs to be done quickly so new divisions and conferences can be aligned. Teams need to start scheduling games so fields can be reserved and teams can start planning spring trips.

          10. In my opinion, the only ones holding hostages is the ULA. If you are part of the “in” crowd with the ULA, you are happy with them. Why is competition bad? It has been great in the youth leagues. Everyone doesn’t need to shop at Walmart. How powerful would you feel if you had nobody to compete against? Your experience with the ULA may be different than mine but I think they have been dictator for long enough.

  3. Can you please post the minutes from the various meetings that the UHSLL has had over the past two months? I would like to know what teams are a part of the discussion and who is in the leadership role. If you are a company, who is your registered agent?

    1. Apparently the UHSLL folks meant transparency starting….. now. Wait. Maybe they meant tomorrow. Or when they feel like it….

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