About the Texas High School Lacrosse League

Overview

The THSLL is over 90 Member School Programs strong in 2013, and is home to 160 Varsity and JV teams and over 3,700 high school student athletes across the State of Texas.  The THSLL provides the environment for a positive experience and motivation for success – in lacrosse, the classroom, and in life beyond high school; helping build self-esteem and confidence; teaching teamwork and discipline; promoting pride and belonging, and offering an excellent avenue for exercise, competition, and recreation.

The Texas Scholastic Lacrosse Association, Inc. (TSLA) is the governing body for the THSLL.  The THSLL is the membership association for boys’ lacrosse (THSLL Member School Programs) at the high school level in Texas, defined as grades nine through twelve.



THSLL Guiding Principles

  1. Creating a structured environment in which student athletes, coaches, administrators, and parents benefit from membership in an organization that facilitates the growth and rewards of playing lacrosse.

  2. Promoting and protecting the health of participating student athletes by establishing uniform rules of play and cultivating the ideals of good sportsmanship, loyalty, and fair play.

  3. Working in harmony with the interscholastic governing bodies of THSLL Member School Programs, and other concerned Texas constituencies.

  4. Establishing and maintaining a process for continuous improvement of the League, by working with THSLL Member School Programs, and other concerned Texas constituencies.

  5. Building school based boy's lacrosse Teams in Texas (all players on a Team attend the same source high school, and ideally lacrosse is recognized as a school sport by the athletic director, and if a public high school recognized as a school sport by the independent school district.)



THSLL Member Teams

Member Teams consist of Varsity and Junior Varsity Teams. The League is divided into Districts and Divisions.

Division I
Division II
Division III
North
North
North
Central
Central
Central
South
San Antonio
South

Division I is made up of Member School Programs that are more established lacrosse programs.  DI teams have bylaws, procedures, a designated head coach and president, reasonable relations with their host school and/or city / community, and a JV and Varsity high school Teams which play a full back to back JV and Varsity schedule.  .

Division II is targeted at development of lacrosse programs.  Division II Member School Programs generally have bylaws, procedures, a designated head coach and president, reasonable relations with their host school and/or city / community, and Varsity high school Teams. 

Division III is a new team working towards critical mass of players, coaches, funding, fields, administrative support and school / city / community support. DIII Teams have a maxiumum of 2 years to transition to DI or DII. .



History of Lacrosse in Texas

Lacrosse has always been a very compelling sport for those who have experienced it's character and challenges. Many players attraction to this unique amateur sport becomes a life-long commitment. So it's common to hear tales of people who tried to introduce lacrosse in this part of the country, as far back as the 'thirties' and 'forties'-perhaps even earlier.

But regrettably, many of these efforts to play, teach and promote lacrosse fell by the way-side. That was usually because there wasn't enough interest, support, access to equipment, or nearby competition to keep the game developing.

Modern lacrosse--the growth of which has been sustained to this day- was officially introduced to the Lone Star State in the year 1971. The genesis of the sports evolution in Texas can be traced to a single, dynamic event; the now legendary "John's Hopkins Vs. Navy Game"-which was played in Houston's Astrodome during April of '71.

John's Hopkins University, one of the traditionally strongest lacrosse programs on the East Coast, had several alumni who had been drawn to the Bayou City's expansive boom of the 'sixties'. A former graduate, Ralph O'Conner (John's Hopkins '51), enlisted renowned heart surgeons, Dr. Denton Cooley, Dr. DeBakey, Dr.Jack Burgland, and Bob McMurrey, Jim Harrington, Dermot Riggs and several others to initiate this event. O'Conner approached the Eastern lacrosse establishment with his proposal to spark the development of lacrosse in the Southwest.

Future Hall of Fame Coaches Bob Scott of Hopkins', and Navy's Willis Bilderback, agreed to move their regular season NCAA game from the tide-lands of Maryland to the Gulf of Coast of Texas. The Navy Midshipmen downed John's Hopkins 9-6 in the event. It was to be the last game on the Naval Academy's schedule before their qualification for the inaugural NCAA Men's Division I Lacrosse Tournament later that season.

Co-Sponsored by the Texas Heart Association, the Hopkins/Navy game attracted over 18,000 fans-an NCAA Lacrosse regular season, single-game attendance record that stood until the late 1980's. Of course, only a token percentage of the parents and children who attended the charity event had any idea of what they were cheering about.

But a couple of fans did.

Two transplanted, former East- Coast players and enthusiasts were attending the Astrodome Game. After witnessing a small piece of lacrosse history, they made contact several days later. Bob Korba was an undergraduate student at SMU, while Dave Gruber was attending graduate school at Texas A&M. Within a few weeks, Korba's newly formed Dallas Lacrosse Club challenged Gruber and the students at Texas A&M to form a team and push for the creation of the sport in Texas. On a small section of the polo fields in College Station, a single crude goal was erected and lacrosse in Texas became a reality. After several scrimmages between Dallas and Texas A&M, the first full-field game was played in May of 1972 at the St. Marks School in Dallas. Later that summer, Texas A&M traveled South to play the newly formed Houston Lacrosse Club.

In the late summer of '72, the Texas Lacrosse League was formed among these three new teams. A year later,in the fall of 1973, the University of Texas and San Antonio Lacrosse Club's were created.

The next season, Tulane University (established in 1972) joined the Texas League,and in December of '74 the organization was renamed the Southwest Lacrosse Association. Texas Tech, Baylor,and LSU expanded the league to nine teams the following year. The league was starting to develop a substantial momentum.

Over the next decade, the SWLA was sanctioning college and post-graduate club teams throughout Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma. The cities of Houston, Dallas, and Austin were fielding multiple college and post-graduate clubs.

1987 became another pivotal year for the growth of lacrosse in Texas. Founded by Randy Bryan (a former Houston Club player) and Coach Matt Harder (who played at the University of Texas from 1974-76) the St. John's School of Houston fielded the first scholastic team in the Lone Star State.

The following year, Houston's Kinkaid School and Memorial High School initiated their own programs. By 1989, new high school teams were established in Austin (Westlake HS) and Dallas (Dallas Jesuit). The Texas High School Lacrosse League was established that year with Randy Bryan as the first Commissioner. The determination was made during the next season to rotate the location of the State Championship Event from Houston to Austin to Dallas. And former players---converted to coaches-were driving the expansion of scholastic lacrosse statewide. By the time the first seniors from these teams graduated to the ranks of Texas colleges, the quality of collegiate competition was showing remarkable improvement.

Men's high school programs had grown to nine teams by 1990, when women's scholastic lacrosse began its growth in Texas. A St. John's graduate, who played women's collegiate lacrosse in Vermont, returned to Houston to introduce the sport to the young Rebel ladies of St. John's School. Bellaire High School also started a club team

Actually, about fifteen years earlier in 1975, women's lacrosse was being played at the University of Texas.Many former out-of-state players were teaching their UT classmates the game. But their competition among the A&M and Baylor schools was limited, and their opponents did not have the experience or depth to keep their own teams intact. So while the Langham women kept their club active for several more years, their competition failed to materialize. The University of Texas women re-established the collegiate game in the early 90's, and it finally caught on-at the same time women's high schools programs were beginning to expand.

By 1993, Houston had added teams at Kinkaid, Houston Episcopal and Lamar High School. Their early development, and long-term growth among other girls teams, has continued to dominate their league's competition. During the mid-90's, teams from Dallas; Plano, Richardson, Coppell and Greenhill were established, as were Bowie and Austin High School's in the Austin area,and the Loyola School in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Today, Texas is one of the largest developing areas of lacrosse in the country. And because the Lone Star State is so large, it's potential growth exceeds nearly every other state playing lacrosse west of the Appalachians.

What was an East-Coast sport in the '40's and 50's, has now become a true national sport. And the role of Texas sin the future of lacrosse's nationwide growth, will continue to challenge, inspire and reward our athletes and supporters-of all ages.