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Lacrosse a growing hit across the Bay area

Special Correspondent
Published: August 14, 2013
Owner of Lacrosse Xtreme in Tampa, Laura Barsantin, far right, with her kids, Kyle and Mikaela, run the Tampa Bay area’s largest lacrosse-only store.

TAMPA — Quick question: What is Florida’s fastest-growing sport in on the high school level?

Wrong. The answer is lacrosse, which in some parts of the state has more players than any other sport.

Hillsborough County will begin sanctioned high school lacrosse in the spring. The Jacksonville, Fort Myers, Orlando and South Florida areas already have programs that are closing in on the high standards of traditional Northern schools. Plus, several state colleges and universities are moving up the lacrosse ladder on a national basis.

Lacrosse hasn’t made a big imprint in the Tampa Bay area, but there is a growing following for the sport. Laura Barsantin’s Lacrosse Xtreme, 204 E. Bearss Ave., is the only store in the Tampa Bay area devoted to selling lacrosse equipment and is one of the main forces pushing the sport in the area.

Laura manages the store, but doesn’t like to give out titles. The store offers equipment and services to anyone wanting to participate in the growing number of club teams in the area. Two of her children, Kyle and Mikaela, help out in the store. Kyle is an expert stringer of lacrosse sticks. All are serious ambassadors for the game.

“This game is starting to become known,” Laura said. “I own the store but we are all doing everything we can to promote the game. ... We will donate to any organization that wants to get involved. We have more high schools playing lacrosse now in Florida than even a state like New York, where it is so big.”

The Lacrosse Xtreme store ranks with any store in the Northeast when it comes to merchandise. Anything that isn’t in the store can be found online in a matter of days.

“This game is ready to explode in the Tampa area and we want to do all we can to help,” Laura said.

Lacrosse Xtreme is at 204 E. Bearss Ave. in Tampa. For more information, call (813) 443-4663.