The International Olympic Committee voted Monday to include both men’s and women’s lacrosse in the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

In an area seen as a breeding ground for lacrosse talent, the Long Island community is thrilled with the decision.

Lacrosse is returning to the Olympics as a medal sport for the first time since 1908. It will be the first time that women’s lacrosse is played in the event. The IOC also approved baseball, softball, cricket, flag football and squash for 2028.

Smithtown native Rob Pannell is a three-time PLL All-Star and was a captain of the national team this summer. Pannell, who will be 38 in 2028, does not plan on playing but shares the same excitement as many.

“It’s going to bring lacrosse to a whole new audience that has never seen the game before,” Pannell said. “And they’re gonna fall in love with it.”

East Meadow native and St. Anthony’s alum Tom Schreiber was the 2023 PLL MVP. His wife, Kathleen, played for the U.S. field hockey team in the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Schreiber, who will be 36 in 2028, said “we’ll see” in regards to playing but is excited.

“So I just think it’s a big milestone and I think could be a nice opportunity for the sport to really grow and get in front of some more eyes,” Schreiber said. “It’s literally the world’s biggest stage.”

Stony Brook women’s coach and U.S. women’s national team assistant coach Joe Spallina is “definitely interested” in being a part of the Games, with the women or men.

Spallina has three sons on the Syracuse men’s lacrosse team, including Joey, the reigning ACC Freshman of the Year. He said that Joey’s career trajectory should have him “in the prime of his career” by the 2028 Olympics. His daughter, Alexa, is one of the nation’s top recruits in the class of 2025
and is committed to Syracuse women’s lacrosse.

Hofstra women’s coach Shannon Smith said the opportunity to continue growing the game and women’s sports is “tremendous.”

“Long Island is a hotbed for lacrosse, so I think it just makes it that much more exciting for every kid playing at a young age,” Smith said. “She’ll pick up a stick, and now you can say the game of lacrosse, you can play in the Olympics.”

“[The women’s] side of the sport is growing faster and [more] furious than the men’s,” Tierney added.

As opposed to the traditional 10 vs. 10 field style, Olympic lacrosse will be played in the sixes format (6 on 6), which World Lacrosse defines as “an incredibly fast-paced, compact version of lacrosse, combining the most exciting elements of the more traditional disciplines.”

“When you talk about down the road, multiple Olympics away, that’s where this moment in time is going to really resonate,” Stony Brook men’s coach Anthony Gilardi said.

Spallina credited World Lacrosse for developing an approved version of play, saying the current field versions would not be endorsed by the IOC. Tierney approves of the format as well, saying sixes will “re-spark” backyards, beaches and parks.

“Long Island takes great pride in lacrosse, and it is the hotbed,” Spallina said. “So based on that, I think for this sport to then be able to help create hotbeds in other areas, this is an important step for that.”

With Colin Stephenson