When Kody Trespalacios enters the 11th grade at Palmetto High School in August, he will have firsthand knowledge of what it’s like to be immersed in the political process. Trespalacios has been fighting to preserve lacrosse as a high school sport. He’s been sending out letters to drum up support of the sport and attending public meetings with other lacrosse players to show strength in numbers.
Trespalacios has been playing lacrosse since freshman year.
“I was always a basketball player,” he says. “I wanted to play football, but I’ve always been skinny. One of my friends was a senior and he told me I should play lacrosse. Ever since, I’ve loved it.”
In Miami-Dade County, lacrosse is a club sport for public high schools. Only four large high schools have lacrosse club teams – Palmetto, Coral Reef, Killian and Columbus.
Because it’s a club sport, the boys and girls who play lacrosse have to buy their own equipment.
“We have to give a donation to play,” Trespalacios says. “We pay for the buses and we even buy our own jerseys.”
They also must travel long distances in order to play enough games because they can’t play against schools where lacrosse is a varsity sport – including Palmer Trinity, Gulliver and Ransom Everglades.
Now, the Florida High School Athletic Association has converted lacrosse into a varsity sport. If Miami-Dade doesn’t follow through and add lacrosse as a varsity sport, the school-based club teams will no longer have places to play, nor will there be enough teams left for them to compete against. There is also the danger – because of budget cuts – that lacrosse may be eliminated as a county sport.
As it stands now, the club team plays its home games on the Palmetto High School field. But if the school system decides against making lacrosse a varsity sport, then the team will no longer be allowed to play at the school.
“It wouldn’t be a school team anymore,” Trespalacios says. “Right now I also play for a summer club team. It’s a month-and-a-half of just tournaments. I’d rather play for my school, which is four months of playing games. It’s more fun representing my school.”
Trespalacios and lacrosse players from all the schools have been working to raise awareness of the situation and gather support for the sport.
“It’s a grassroots effort,” he says. “It’s all of us together. We’re rivals with Columbus, but we have to push together to keep playing. We have a Facebook group and there is a petition that has almost 2,000 signatures. We’re trying to form one big lacrosse family to try and get them to accept us. I emailed the superintendent of schools all this information.”
The petition addresses the budget issue by promising to raise the money for the sport and to fund those students who cannot afford to pay.
The lacrosse campaign has been interesting to Trespalacios, but also frustrating because he doesn’t know the outcome. However, he does not spend all his time fighting city hall and he is also involved in other types of community service. He and a friend hope to start a school club that will collect food and clothing for the homeless.
In the fall, Trespalacios will take three Advanced Placement classes — English, Art History and U.S. History — as well as Honors Chemistry, Honors Marine Biology and Honors Algebra. This summer, he will again be a camp counselor at the Jane Foreman Sports Camp. He worked at the camp last summer and says it was a positive experience.