After five seasons as a club sport, both men’s and women’s lacrosse is finally gaining varsity status.
Now Albion, Adrian and Olivet are the only MIAA schools in Michigan, Trine is located in Indiana, that offer lacrosse as a varsity sport.
“We have been trying to go varsity for as long as I can remember,” said Lauren Marmion, Grand Rapids senior. “I started playing as a first-year and there was talk about it then.”
According to Lisa Roschek, Albion College Athletic Director, there is no official process a club sport goes through to become a varsity sport, but this year the MIAA determined that enough interest was being shown in the sport.
Interest along with the right timing helped make lacrosse a varsity sport, coming effective in the fall of 2009. The first varsity season will take place one year from now in the spring of 2010
“It all started with the players,” said Roschek. “As time went on, more and more reasons kept surfacing to make lacrosse a varsity sport, like the size of the teams as well as their skill level continuing to grow which is important for a varsity team.”
Will Forgrave, Lansing senior, believes lacrosse is finally getting the kind of recognition it should.
“It means the sport is getting the credit it deserves,” Forgrave said. “I’ve been playing for almost a decade and I have only played on one varsity team, Waverly High School, which turned varsity my senior year. We were a club team before that, so it’s great to see the sport mature like this.”
According to Roschek, because not all MIAA schools have lacrosse teams there is talk of a hybrid conference being formed.
A hybrid conference consists of schools from the same geographical area and do not have to belong to the same conference. This allows for reasonable travel distances and gives teams a conference that otherwise would not have one.
As a club sport, players had to buy their own equipment, fin their own matches, schedule and organize practices. Team captains were also in charge of finding a field to play on.
The men’s team has selected Jacob DeCola as Albion’s first varsity lacrosse coach in the school’s history. Albion’s men’s lacrosse team named a coach on Tuesday, April 7. DeCola’s past coaching experience includes being a high school head coach and an assistant coach at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC since 2004. The team captains were asked to be included in the selection process.
The women’s team is still in the interview process.
With lacrosse becoming a varsity sport, the cost of out of pocket expenses for the athletes will be lowered.
As club teams, the players were required to pay for all equipment with the exception of helmets and jerseys, which were paid for by the school.
On average a lacrosse stick will cost around $50, a pair of protective goggles will cost $60 and a chest protector is around $65.