The Stokes County Board of Education has given West Stokes High School permission to put together a co-ed club lacrosse team.
Formal approval was given by the school board at a meeting Monday night. Board members Becky Boles, Sonya Cox and Pat Messick voted for the lacrosse start-up plan, which includes $500 pay for the head coach during the half-schedule season. Board Chair Mike Rogers voted against the program because he was not in favor of coach’s pay for a club sport. Board member Jamie Yontz was not present during the vote due to a family emergency.
The co-ed team will start on a trial basis as a club team in the spring, with the potential for it to be added as a regular varsity sports program next year.
Annette Johnson, who was recently appointed county athletic director for Stokes County Schools, explained that several students approached West Stokes Athletic Director Chris Manley at the start of the school year about starting a lacrosse team. An interest meeting was held in late October, and 34 potential players signed up — eight freshmen, three sophomores, 14 juniors and nine seniors.
The N.C. High School Athletic Association does not govern club programs but it does allow schools to add club players to the catastrophic insurance policy, which is now possible thanks to the school board signing off on the program.
According to a memorandum from Principal Tony George to the school board, about one-fourth of the attendees at the interest meeting already play lacrosse outside of school and own their own equipment. Start-up costs for equipment will be incurred by the school, booster club, and players.
Seven area schools have committed to play West Stokes, including Reagan, West Forsyth, Mount Tabor, Reynolds, Bishop McGuinness, Northwest Guilford and West Guilford. All of those games will be away for West Stokes. Davie County may also be able to play West Stokes. The Wildcats will schedule eight away matches — half the regular schedule — against JV or club teams from those schools.
Cox asked if there were lacrosse programs for younger kids in the area. Johnson said there are a lot of programs out there, and it would be good to have some clinics in the near future.
The school board discussed the coaching salary for the position, and Rogers pointed out that leaders of other extra-curricular school clubs are not compensated for their work with the clubs. Messick said she thought coaches and club leaders needed to be paid, and Cox said this situation is a little different than a traditional club because the athletes will be meeting every day.
West Stokes plans to follow all eligibility and attendance rules though the club is not a regular sanctioned varsity sport, Johnson said earlier in the meeting.
The season will begin in February if all goes well.
Athletic directors as coaches
After the lacrosse discussion, the board discussed the practice of allowing athletic directors to coach sports. This item was added to the agenda at the request of a board member, Superintendent Ronnie Mendenhall confirmed.
Johnson said she has talked with principals at the county’s schools, and they think allowing athletic directors to coach sports should be a site-based decision.
“They know their coaching staff. They wanna be able to decide,” said Johnson.
Providing a few examples from local schools, Johnson said she agrees with the core opinion presented by the principals.
Cox said at some schools — especially smaller ones — leaders would really want the athletic director to be able to coach as well because the coaching positions do not pay well and it is sometimes hard to line someone up. While it may not be the best scenario, Cox said that dual-responsibility is sometimes necessary. The principals were put in place in their schools and they need to be able to make those decisions, Cox said. Messick agreed.
Rogers mentioned going through school board packets and noting that athletic directors have still not turned in certain reports. He said the first priority should be to fulfill the athletic director duties, and coaching should be done if there is extra time.
“We brought you on because there’s a problem,” said Rogers to Johnson, adding that some people have trouble juggling the responsibilities.
Johnson said hopefully everyone will be able to get the paperwork done because there is a new system in place.
Rogers said to make sure principals know that the first job of athletic directors is to fill the duties of that position. The board moved on from the discussion. No action was taken.