Thursday, April 1, 2010

Westview Youth Lacrosse, Beaverton Youth Lacrosse part ways over unresolved differences


Editors Note: Can't we all just play lax? And can't Westview get the same things Sunset already has?

By Joe Fitzgibbon, Special to The Oregonian

March 20, 2010, 4:00AM

Girls' teams from Wilson Youth Lacrosse and Beaverton Youth Lacrosse compete in a match last summer at Jackson Middle School.

BEAVERTON -- Citing ongoing philosophical and management differences, Westview Youth Lacrosse has decided to severe ties with Beaverton Youth Lacrosse this spring and set up a rival program made up of players recruited from within the Westview High School boundaries.

After six weeks of intense meetings with a mediator from Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District, representatives from both organizations said they were unable to resolve their differences and would part ways.
Westview joins Sunset Youth Lacrosse as the second program to break away from the parent organization in the past two years, resulting in the siphoning off of more than 300 players from the Beaverton organization. Beaverton membership stands at about 700.

Bill Kirby, Westview vice president, said he was disappointed with the outcome but that his association would operate independently this season with 10 teams on alternative fields, most of them privately owned.

"We've had a record turnout of players and need to focus on moving forward with our season," he said.

Earlier this year, Westview board members called for replacing Beaverton Youth Lacrosse's single league, which encompasses the Beaverton School District, with a confederation of satellite teams. Each would be aligned with one of the five Beaverton high schools to include names and uniforms that reflected strong neighborhood affiliations.

Beaverton Youth Lacrosse rejected the proposal, instead offering Westview more money to assist with recruiting players, full participation in its Saturday league and representation on the organization's steering committee. Beaverton also insisted -- and Tualatin Hills agreed -- that it be the sole negotiator for use of the park district's fields. That was a particular sticking point for the Westview league.

Westview turned down the offer.

"We feel strongly that what we proposed represented the future of youth lacrosse," Kirby said. "We know that we can recruit more kids to the sport if they play for their neighborhood team."

Since its inception eight years ago, Beaverton Youth Lacrosse has attracted hundreds of boys and girls, from first grade through middle school, who live within the Beaverton School District boundaries.

The organization trained its coaches, provided uniforms, hired officials and rented fields from Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District, under the auspices of a single, districtwide league. This often meant that teams had a mix of players from throughout the area.

But parents in the Sunset and Westview neighborhoods complained that the structure limited the sport's growth and left them out of the decision-making. Several pointed to soccer, baseball and football as youth sports that are organized along high school boundaries.

"We decided to do our own thing two years ago and now have become one of the largest programs in the state," said Mike Parker, a founding member of Beaverton Youth Lacrosse who left that group and is now a coach and board member with Sunset Youth Lacrosse. "Recruiting locally is a natural way to do things."

Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation found itself caught up in the fray over the winter, when it announced that the district would negotiate field rentals only with the Beaverton league, virtually shutting out Westview teams.

"Using one volunteer-based affiliate for each sport is an operating model that has worked successfully for THPRD and the community for decades," district officials announced. The decision angered parents from the Westview league and left them scrambling to find alternative sites for practices and games.

Kirby said his association has negotiated with the Oak Hills Homeowners Association to play home contests on fields at Northwest 153rd Avenue and Oak Hills Drive. Discussions are under way, he added, for use of other privately owned fields in the Beaverton area.

Most area youth lacrosse programs kick off their seasons at the end of this month and early April.

-- Joe Fitzgibbon

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