In a huge change as it pertains to youth lacrosse, USA Lacrosse and the National Lacrosse Federation (NLF) have announced a partnership that will bring age verification to youth lacrosse. This has been a hot topic for many in the game for years, and this announcement brings an end to months of speculation that this would occur.
USA Lacrosse had much to say regarding what they refer to as a transformational partnership. Beginning with the 2023-24 club lacrosse season, the National Lacrosse Federation and USA Lacrosse have come together to bring age verification to club lacrosse. This partnership will improve the integrity of the competition, the quality of experience for all participants, and player safety. It’s also a first step in showing what can happen when leaders come together for the good of the game.
This has been a hot-button topic to many for years, as the number of children playing down a grade level has increased. Taking advantage of age eligibility guidelines in youth sports is a huge problem in all sports, not just lacrosse.
“What the age verification process needed was two leaders to get together to head up this initiative,” said George Breres of Team 91, one of the NLF’s founding members. “It seems like it’s the right time to have leaders from the club side — the National Lacrosse Federation, its founding members, affiliates, event operators — to get together with a trusted brand that also has the technology to implement this. The time is now.”
The implementation of this will take some time, but there is a plan in place for this to roll out for this coming year. The changes will have an effect on youth lacrosse, while high school-aged players will mostly be unaffected.
“For the 2023-24 club season for graduation years 2029 and younger, the NLF will implement a 15-month timeframe (June 1st birthdate through August 31st of the following year) for its age groupings. The NLF clubs are expected to continue using graduation years as the team names, but all players will fit within the 15-month groupings. This will still allow classmates to play with each other and cause minimal disruption to current rosters.”
To further simplify the recruiting process for both players and college coaches at the high school level, the NLF will continue to classify players by graduation year. Players in high school will need to keep their USA Lacrosse membership current, but they won’t need to go through the age verification procedure.
A link to the release can be found here.