Bangor High School could be adding a boys and girls varsity lacrosse program next season.
The new program was included in the district’s proposed fiscal 2018 budget, which was introduced by Superintendent Betsy Webb during a school committee meeting Wednesday night. The proposed budget also eliminated the school’s freshman sports programs, which Webb said had low participation and high travel costs since the teams they often competed against are located in southern Maine.
The school had been offering the sport at the club level the past four years with good participation, prompting the proposal to add varsity teams.
“It is clear that numbers exist to sustain varsity level competition for boys and girls,” Bangor High Principal Paul Butler said in a March 15 report to Webb found in Wednesday’s school committee packet. “With knowledge that student engagement in athletics improves their academic outcomes, we feel that lacrosse would fill a spring competitive void and extend the collateral benefits of athletics participation through the end of each school year.”
To make up for the loss of freshman teams, which are costing the district $30,000 this year, the budget would increase the amount the school spends on intramural athletic programs by $5,500, Webb said.
Implementing the new lacrosse programs would cost about $45,500, she said.
As it has nationwide, lacrosse has grown in Maine at southern and central Maine high schools in recent years. In the past, despite pleas from former players of the club program, Butler had opted not to add boys and girls lacrosse citing concerns surrounding its financial sustainability. The sport is offered to Bangor-area youths in grades 3-12 through Eastern Maine Youth Lacrosse, a program offered through the Bangor Parks and Recreation Department.
There are 45 teams each in boys and girls varsity lacrosse in the state for the upcoming season.