The Virgin Islands have been recognized as the 68th member of World Lacrosse, the international organization of the sport, the USVI Lacrosse announced on Friday.
Lacrosse is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world and Friday’s announcement makes the territory the fifth member to be added in the last 12 months. The V.I. joins Barbados, Lithuania, Dominican Republic and Panama as new members added since last December.
World Lacrosse has been recognized as the sport’s governing body by the International Olympic Committee. Lacrosse is being considered for inclusion in the 2028 Olympics.
Leslie Highfield-Carter, president of the USVI Lacrosse Association, said she was excited about growing the sport in the territory.
“We have a lot of very talented local athletes who will benefit from the opportunities lacrosse has to offer. As we grow the game here in the territory, we envision our athletes being a contribution to lacrosse globally,” she said in a news release issued Friday by World Lacrosse.
Bob DeMarco, director of development for World Lacrosse, cited the sport’s history in the territory.
“With lacrosse activity in schools dating back nearly 30 years on the island of St. Croix and 15 years on St. Thomas, there is a bright future ahead for the U.S. Virgin Islands Lacrosse Association,” he said.
The release said the Virgin Islands received a unanimous recommendation from both the World Lacrosse Development Committee and the World Lacrosse Board of Directors.
The application process required the territory to be recognized as an emerging nation. Emerging nations then work with the director of sport development for the international group to complete required documentation.
After the USVI Lacrosse Association became an emerging nation it then had to build a board, incorporate as a nonprofit, create a three-year development plan, turn in a history of the sport in the Virgin Islands, track minutes from the first board meetings and submit an application detailing who is involved.
The documents were turned in at the beginning of September and reviewed by the group’s Development Committee and Executive Committee. Once those committees approved it, it was sent out to the other members of World Lacrosse for questions, concerns and eventually a vote.
A key part of the developmental plan is introducing lacrosse in the school systems. Antilles School and Educational Complex could begin to introduce the game into its physical education curriculum as early as spring. Conversations are ongoing with other schools from all three islands in the territory.
USVI Lacrosse Association has been accepting donations for equipment for the school programs. Recently Bellarmine University and the Florida Southern College Moccasins donated gear. Bellarmine’s donation of 44 stick heads will go directly to the St. Croix Educational Complex program, the news release said.
The history of lacrosse in the Virgin Islands included when P.E teachers introduced the sport in schools and when visiting university teams played preseason games in the territory.
Membership in World Lacrosse makes the Virgin Islands eligible to field men’s and women’s national teams representing the territory at international lacrosse events. More general information is available by email to [email protected] Specific information for each island can be found on lacrosse clubs Facebook pages for St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas.