TopOfTheCircle.com

Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

March 29, 2021 — A great lacrosse builder steps down

This morning, it was announced that Steve Stenerson, the chief executive officer of U.S. Lacrosse, will be stepping down after some four decades of leadership within the game. Starting as the executive director of The Lacrosse Foundation in 1984, he was named CEO of U.S. Lacrosse when a consortium of eight national lacrosse organizations formed what is now the national governing body of the sport.

That formation occurred in the first year of this website, 1998. Since then the growth of the game in America has been nothing short of amazing if you look at any metric. The sport went from roughly 1,100 girls’ varsity teams to more than 3,200 today. The overall budget has grown 22-fold since the consolidation of the several organizations which sought to build the game.

Since U.S. Lacrosse came along, five professional field lacrosse leagues — two on the men’s side, three for the women — have formed. The U.S. Lacrosse museum and headquarters moved from a building on a postage-stamp lot of land next to Homewood Field in Baltimore to a large suburban facility out along I-81 in Sparks, Md. In addition, lacrosse is poising itself to become an Olympic sport as early as Los Angeles 2028.

Not everything about the Stenerson Era of leadership has been overwhelmingly positive. Though the expansion of the sport at the youth and scholastic levels have been positive, the follow-on by the NCAA has been very resistant. In Division I, only two men’s programs exist west of the Mississippi river — Utah and the Air Force Academy.

But the regrettable failure of the growth of the game over the last four decades is that the game has become a rich parent’s sport — and one which is overwhelmingly white.

Read this devastating op-ed penned by two members of the women’s lacrosse team at the University of the South. The school underwent a major scandal a couple of weekends ago when a bunch of rowdy undergraduates shouted verbal and racial epithets at the visiting team from Emmanuel College.

These words are a challenge and a mandate for whoever is the next CEO of the organization. It should be posted in the executive office.

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