The Ohio High School Athletic Association announced June 4 that it will sponsor boys and girls lacrosse beginning with the 2016-17 school year.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association announced June 4 that it will sponsor boys and girls lacrosse beginning with the 2016-17 school year.

Although neither boys nor girls lacrosse yet has the required 150 schools to become sanctioned by the OHSAA, according to its bylaws, it was approved by the board of directors 8-0 in the OHSAA's newly developed category called "emerging" sports.

There were 122 boys teams and 118 girls teams sponsored by schools in 2015, with an additional 18 boys club teams sponsored.

"The members of the subcommittee did an outstanding job studying lacrosse in Ohio and researching the sport both statewide and nationally," OHSAA commissioner Dan Ross said. "I know they also received tremendous assistance from Paul Balcerzak, commissioner of both the Ohio High School Lacrosse Association and the Ohio Schoolgirls Lacrosse Association.

"Lacrosse is definitely growing in our state at both the youth and high school levels, and it's exciting when schools want their sport to be part of our association and also exciting that more students will be able to complement their high school experience with another participation opportunity."

Earlier this spring, the OHSAA announced it was considering sanctioning lacrosse.

Balcerzak has been the commissioner of the OHSLA for boys since 2009 and also has headed the OSLA for girls since 2013.

"For me, it was my mission to be the last commissioner of the sport," Balcerzak said in late April. "The main reason (for wanting to be OHSAA-sanctioned) is that it puts our student-athletes on par with others at their school."

As an emerging sport, the board of directors will conduct an annual review of items such as growth and financial solvency to determine if lacrosse will continue as an emerging sport, be elevated to a recognized sport or be suspended or discontinued as an emerging sport.

The first state boys tournament sanctioned by the OHSLA took place in 1989, and the first state girls tournament was in 2000.

While the boys have two divisions as well as a club division tournament and the girls have two tournament divisions, the board of directors did not determine how many tournament divisions there will be in lacrosse beginning in 2016-17.

The addition of lacrosse increased the number of recognized and emerging sports sponsored by the OHSAA to 26, which includes 13 for boys and 13 for girls. The most recent sports added were boys and girls bowling in 2006-07.