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Lacrosse organization seeks school support

Arrowhead Titans Black wins Champlin Icebreaker Tournament. Back row from left to right: Sean Hall (Coach), Keagan Hall, Sam Ojibway, Quinn Halli, Gavin Gibson, Bryce Paul, Michael Cadotte, Ben Saletel, Chris Lebrasseur (Coach.) Front Row from left to right: Gavin Lebrasseur, Spencer Szymczak, Jake Peterson, Treston Berg, Mason Taylor, Jack Korpela. Not pictured: Matthew Williams and Alex Johnson. 1 / 3
Arrowhead Titans U12 lacrosse player Quinn Halli defends a Becker offensive player, while Keagan Hall is ready in the background. Photos by Dan Saletel2 / 3
Arrowhead Titans U12 lacrosse player Ben Saletel intercepts a Becker pass while Jake Peterson assists on defense. 3 / 3

Lacrosse is growing in the Northland. This up-and-coming team sport where players use the head of the lacrosse stick to carry, pass, catch and shoot the ball into the goal is attracting many young athletes in the Duluth area, creating competition with baseball, softball and other spring sports.

Sean Hall, a Cloquet native and board member for the Arrowhead Titans Lacrosse Organization, claims "the sport is exploding and incredibly exciting to watch."

Also a parent-coach for the Titans, this spring was Hall's third year coaching in the organization, which was established five years ago in the Hermantown/Proctor area. He explained that his wife saw an ad about the Arrowhead Titans in the Pine Journal and registered their son, Keagan, as he showed interest in the sport.

"I knew nothing about lacrosse when they asked me to be a coach," Hall said. "This was three years ago when I was sitting in a motel room down in Kansas hunting turkeys." After agreeing to coach, some forerunners in the organization quickly taught him about the sport.

Zach Swart was one of these individuals who helped guide Hall down this new road. Swart was a goalie for the University of Minnesota Duluth's lacrosse team, so his acquired knowledge and connections in the sport led to helping grow the Arrowhead Titans Lacrosse Organization. After the two years it took to start up the organization, teams were developed— boys and girls teams from U8 to U14 age groups. Hall explained there were 125 kids the first year, 220 the second year and around 250 the third year. He believes the organization is going to continue to increase in enrollment.

As a result, Arrowhead Titans is looking for its South teams to form their own organization, one of which Sean is a coach for, made up of Cloquet, Esko, Carlton and Proctor kids.

Hall explained that there are too many kids from the surrounding area to administer and manage effectively. Fortunately for the Hermantown and Proctor players, once they reach age 14, they can join their high school's team, as Hermantown and Proctor combined to sanction a Minnesota State High School League varsity lacrosse team.

Therefore, to help its merging process, the organization is looking for a school to represent its South teams so their kids do not have to quit the sport when they turn 14. This would require Cloquet, Esko or Carlton to jump on board.

When asked what he would say to persuade these districts to add a new activity into their schools, Hall said he would like them to "be open to the fact that lacrosse is a recognized sport and that the numbers show how fast it is growing."

Additionally, Sean's 12-year-old son, Keagan, said: "I don't think kids should have to give up the sport they love at 14 because their high school does not have it offered."

Paul Riess and Chad Stoskopf, the activities directors for the Cloquet and Esko school districts, respectively, weighed in with their similar procedures for adding a new sport or activity.

The activities director, principal and superintendent gather information about each of the elements for consideration of the proposal for approval. Their list of elements are considered in the approval of the new sport, such as liability and safety, compliance with Title IX and other applicable laws, and appropriateness for a student group. There must be a positive response to each of their items for a request to move forward for presentation to their School Board during the budget cycle. The remaining elements on their checklist, including demonstrated need and interest in the new activity and sustainability over time, will be approved or disapproved by the School Board. The results of the School Board's discussion and examination will then be returned to the athletic director for official request to establish this new sport, or tabled for failure to satisfy the list of requirements.

The Titans must take the request directly to the activities directors in Cloquet, Esko or Carlton to give their sport a chance at becoming a sanctioned MSHSL varsity sport.