Country’s fastest growing sport catches on in Wisconsin

Country’s fastest growing sport catches on in Wisconsin

The fastest growing sport in the country is lacrosse, and it’s no longer just an east coast sport.

In Wisconsin, 6,500 students from third grade to high school are involved in the sport. In Verona, the popularity of the sport is producing big-time results: The Verona Wildcats are the defending state champions.

The Wisconsin spring high school sports landscape is changing as the fast-paced sport of lacrosse has entered the mix.

“It’s so much fun to play. What is not to love about it?” said Verona junior Jesse Palmer.

The game features 10 players on a side, nine in the field and one goalie. They play four 12-minute quarters and the substitutions are like hockey. The game is played on a soccer field with specific lacrosse dimensions.

“Lacrosse is a great mix of the athleticism of football, hockey and sort of the strategy of basketball,” said fourth-year Verona head coach Mark Meyer.

Meyer won high school state titles in growing up in St. Louis and played college lacrosse at Butler.

VIDEO: Lacrosse catches on in Wisconsin

“It’s a complete sport, and it’s a great game for cross-training for other fall sports. We compete against track and baseball for players, but there are not many sports that can match the athleticism of lacrosse,” Meyers adds.

The Wildcats won state last year, but it’s still a club sport, so it is not governed by the WIAA. But with the growing youth programs and now 35 boys teams across the state, it could be only a matter of time before it becomes an official WIAA sport.

“It would be a nice step, not necessarily towards legitimacy of the sport, but in the minds of other athletes around the state,” said Meyer.

“I don’t think we get recognition because we are a club sport. But I think, after state, they realized we are playing legit teams, and this is a sport just like any other,” added Senior captain Vince Wright.