Superior School Board mulls adding lacrosse to high school sports roster

The $40,000 total cost worried some school board members who pointed to an estimated deficit of $4.1 million the school district is expected to face for the 2024-25 school year.

Girl runs during lacrosse game
Superior’s Josie Degraef (22) moves the ball up the field during a lacrosse game during the 2018 season against Hudson at the NBC Spartan Sports Complex.
Jed Carlson / File / Superior Telegram

SUPERIOR — The Superior School Board is poised to decide whether to add boys and girls lacrosse to the Superior High School’s spring sports lineup.

At a Committee of the Whole meeting on Monday, Feb. 6, the board agreed to take up the item at its Monday, Feb. 13 school board meeting.

In December, the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association approved adding lacrosse as a sanctioned sport beginning in the spring of 2024. According to the association, it's the first time an entirely new sport has been introduced for both genders since the addition of boys and girls soccer in 1982-1983.

“One of the biggest concerns is right now the number of kids we have in the programs are playing at a club level within the state of Wisconsin," said Ella Olson, director of athletics and activities for the high school. "Now that WIAA has adopted it to be an actual sport, the likelihood of that club organization completely going away is pretty high.”

Superior Area Lacrosse Inc. runs the club program in Superior, including club teams at SHS.


“This is a strong youth program in our community. There’s a lot of numbers, and it’s an opportunity for a lot of kids to be involved in a sport,” Olson said. “If you look at it that way in the lens of getting kids involved, looking at our high school goals of making kids feel valued and want to be a part of something, adding this would be a very large opportunity for that.”

The group has been active in Superior since 2018.

“Historically, since that time, we’ve had numbers anywhere from 112-150 players in the youth, which would be U-8 up through the high school level,” said the Superior Area Lacrosse Board President Brad Roden.

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Superior Middle School students Dillan Skandel and Thomas Anderson asked the board to add lacrosse as a sport.

“I love playing lacrosse because it’s exciting and engaging,” Anderson told the board. “I’m asking the board to support lacrosse at the high school level, so I can continue to play.”

If the district does choose to take on the sport, the organization would hand its reserves — currently $12,000 — to the high school program.

If approved, the schedule would look very similar to girls softball, starting around spring break and going through the first weekend of June. The teams would be members of the Lake Superior Conference, as lacrosse is already a sanctioned sport with the Minnesota State High School League.

It would cost a total of approximately $40,000 to cover coaching expenses, travel, equipment and supplies for both teams. That cost is comparable to the boys soccer program, Olson said.


Board members agreed it would be a great opportunity for students.

“In my opinion, this opens up just another great opportunity for our community and for all of our kids in our community,” said board Vice President Steve Olson.

“I just want to say anytime that we can add something for our students to play a sport in high school is better than them sitting home on a computer alone. I’d rather they be out playing, right? I’m all in favor of that,” said board President Len Albrecht.

Superior School District officials concerned about future funding

The district would have the $40,000 to get the program up and running, board members were told. But the district is facing a projected $4.1 million budget shortfall for the 2024-2025 school year, at which point all district programming would be scrutinized.

“The only reason I guess I would say no right now is because we need to tackle the deficit stuff first … maybe it needs to be put off until we figure out the deficit more,” said board Clerk Ed Gallagher.

District Administrator Amy Starzecki said another part of the plan for next year should be revisiting all student participation fees and seeing how they compare to other school districts.

In other business, an action item regarding a compensation study for administrators did not move forward from the Committee of the Whole meeting. Board members said they didn't feel comfortable approving the move unless similar studies were planned for other employee groups.

The budget situation was also brought up. In addition to the one-time cost of up to $15,000, Gallagher said, there's no point in doing the study unless the district can act on any recommendations.


"I would say that it's kind of bad timing for where we're at as a district now," he said.

This story was updated at 4:05 p.m. Feb. 14 to correct the numbers of lacrosse club team players that participate annually. It was originally posted at 7 a.m. Feb. 9. The Superior Telegram regrets the error.

Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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