Blacksburg took advantage of some late dropped balls to pull off an 18-5 lacrosse victory over Christiansburg Saturday at Shawsville Middle School.
This is the first year the two high schools have sponsored club teams, but organizers from the New River Valley Lacrosse Club are optimistic that the sport will continue to grow and maybe one day be recognized on the Virginia High School League level here in Montgomery County.
Programs already exist in Salem and other neighboring school districts. Last year, Franklin County and Jefferson Forest added the sport on the VHSL level.
Across the state, both boys and girls teams have been added at a quick pace, but most of the schools tend to be in the metropolitan areas and are 5A and 6A classified schools. A large number of the private academies and schools also play the sport.
This year, Blacksburg and Christiansburg will not play a lot of those teams because of the club status. But they will square off with perennial power North Cross and Faith Christian out of Lynchburg.
Both club teams will also play Massanutten Academy’s club team.
Most of Christiansburg and Blacksburg’s games are played at Shawsville Middle School on Saturday afternoons through May. Both teams will also travel to Raleigh, North Carolina on April 29 to play Cox Mill Academy.
Geoff Rowland is the director of the New River Valley Lacrosse club and is excited about the two new teams this year.
Nationwide lacrosse is considered one of the fastest growing sports with over 36,000 playing at the collegiate level.
U.S. Lacrosse says 750,000 kids played lacrosse last year.
A report by Sports Business Journal said participation in U.S. high school lacrosse grew 528 percent between 1990 and 2010, as per the National Federation of State High School Associations.
According to United State Lacrosse Association, national participation topped 800,000 players on organized teams in 2015, the first time the sport passed that threshold.
In comparison in 2001, there were just over 250,000 players. Participation at the high school level topped 300,000 for the first time.
The rise in popularity is also being seen here in our region.
The New River Valley Lacrosse Club recorded 200 players for the 2016 season across all age groups. That number is up from 120 players in 2012.
The club has five girls teams across four age groups of under nine, under 11, middle school and high school and six boys teams across the same age groups.
“As lacrosse continues to grow in the NRV, I am certain the schools will want to provide their opportunities to play VHSL lacrosse,” Rowland said during a past interview.
Rowland believes the future of lacrosse is bright in our area. “We have great kids playing and promoting the sport, growing in interest, increased participation and terrific coaches. The sports has something for anyone willing to work at it—regardless of size, strength or speed. It combines the best attributes of other sports—teamwork, scoring, speed, skill, strategy and physical play (on the boy’s side). As more people in our area get involved and see what it is all about, the pact of growth will only continue to increase,” he said.
There is also some excitement with plans by the town of Christiansburg to build three Astroturf fields at the Truman Wilson recreation area. Members of the NRVLC hope they will be access to those fields that will allow for even more participation in the near future.
For more information on the two new high school club teams or the New River Valley Lacrosse Club in general, checkout www.nrvlc.org.