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WIAA adds lacrosse, first “new” sport in over 40 years

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – Gone are the days when lacrosse players had to make it clear that they technically belong to a “club” and not a sports team. Because starting this spring season, the WIAA has officially sanctioned boys and girls lacrosse.

This is the first time since football was recognized in 1982/83 that an entirely new sport for both genders has been added. The WIAA unanimously approved the proposal in December 2022.

For Notre Dame's boys lacrosse team, which has played as a club for years, the sanction will help expand the roster.

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“With the programs here, it was really difficult to get on-site time. It was difficult for them to crunch the numbers…the WIAA is just legitimizing the sport itself,” head coach Michael Hinkfuss said.

With the support of the WIAA, lacrosse now has funding, more referees, a uniform set of rules and official testing for coaches. Hinkfuss joked that although he had trained at NDA for five years, this was his first time taking a test.

There are 76 sanctioned boys' and girls' lacrosse teams throughout the state of Wisconsin, divided into conferences similar to other state sports. The Notre Dame team competes as a co-op team with some Ashwaubenon athletes. The Tritons are part of the FRCC along with Bay Port, De Pere/West De Pere and Pulaski.

The Notre Dame Tritons boys lacrosse team has competed as a club sport for years, but is proud to finally be recognized as a WIAA sport this season.

Thanks to federal recognition, Hinkfuss says there is “more attention” on lacrosse and he sees the sport growing. He expected around 20 players this season, but has 27 athletes on his roster. Many of the new players are soccer or ice hockey players who are looking for physical activity in the spring.

“They like hitting guys … they think, 'Oh my God, the sport of lacrosse is a lot harder than I thought,'” Hinkfuss said.

Sophomore Ryker Thomas, who comes from a Division 1 Ice Hockey State Championship with the Tritons, agreed. “The only difference is probably the conditioning part. Running and skating are a little different.”

Whether fans of sports, former hockey players or people interested in something new, Hinkfuss and his team believe lacrosse will continue to grow in Wisconsin with the WIAA sanction.

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“I’m really looking forward to more people coming out and supporting us now that we’re a sport,” senior David Sack said.

The Notre Dame boys lacrosse team's season opener against Appleton United was postponed due to rain. The Tritons will open their season April 9 at Bay Port.

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