GLENDALE — The oldest sport will be the newest sport at Glendale High.
After sporting a club program the past several years, Glendale will feature a girls' lacrosse team this season. The Glendale Unified School District approved it in November and the Nitros became a CIF Southern Section sanctioned program.
Glendale will be the first local school to field a lacrosse program.
"The way I understood it, they have club teams and they have CIF teams and most of the girls' club teams became CIF teams," said Glendale Principal Deb Rinder, adding that club teams can only compete against other club teams, which would limit the Nitros program going forward. "I felt like that would dissolve the team and the interest.
"The bottom line for me is I really felt it's a great opportunity for the kids. Fortunately, we have the support of the district and the dedication of the coach and the interest of the kids to be able to do this. … This is a win-win for everybody."
Coach Joe Campbell, who runs the school's construction academy and played lacrosse in high school and college before being inducted into the Lacrosse Hall of Fame's Greater Los Angeles chapter in 2008, said he believed the Nitros would someday have a CIF program.
"To me, it's a huge step for the kids at Glendale High School," said Campbell, who additionally oversees the Glendale Lacrosse Club that features a boys' and girls' team. "All I care about is that they can go out there and compete.
"It gives us a legitimate program, just like volleyball, soccer, track and field and softball. Most kids have never played a sport in high school. Now, they get an opportunity to represent their school. We've had about 20 girls sign up and hopefully there will be more coming.
"Having the club teams led to a huge influence and it shows that there's a value and that you are benefitting from it."
More than anyone else, Campbell spearheaded the program chance, according to Rinder.
"Really, Joe Campbell needs to be credited with carrying this torch forward," she said.
While an official schedule hasn't been compiled — the season runs March through May — Campbell said the Nitros are allotted 20 maximum matches. The Nitros will compete in the four-team Prep League with La Cañada, Westridge and Chadwick. In addition, Glendale might compete in matches against teams from other states.
The Nitros will kick off their season March 5 at the 32-team Rose Bowl Jamboree in Pasadena. Glendale will begin league competition at 4:30 p.m. March 10 at La Cañada and will participate in its first league home match at 5 p.m. March 22 against Westridge at Moyse Field.
Junior attacker Jenna Nance said she wasn't expecting the Nitros to field a team this season.
"I didn't think it would happen this soon," Nance said. "It definitely means a lot to have one because we have put in a lot of hard work.
"It's going to be a bigger opportunity for the team to grow in the area. It's an honor. It will be harder than club, but worth it."
For a school to have a CIF sanctioned program, CIF Southern Section Director of Communications Thom Simmons said it must pay a $50 fee and then have the respective school and its district approve it so they can become a CIF Southern Section team. Simmons said there are currently 58 girls' teams and 67 boys' teams who have CIF sanctioned lacrosse programs.
Simmons said a playoff won't be held.
According to CIF Southern Section Bluebook Rule 3200.3: "No playoffs will be conducted by the CIF Southern Section Office when less than 20% of the membership field teams in that sport."
Nonetheless, Rinder, for one, believes this season will be a progressive step, not just for the lacrosse program and team, but for Glendale.
"It's just another opportunity for our kids," Rinder said. "It's exciting. I had never really seen lacrosse [before] I became principal here. It's addicting, it's a great game.
"It's one more thing that I think makes Glendale High unique."