With the new football team revving up on campus, students and faculty are wondering about the status of women’s lacrosse.
Women’s lacrosse will begin practicing in the fall of 2017, Athletic Director Steve Trachier said.
“We’ll do a candidate search this fall and hire a head coach around January to start the recruitment process for the team for 2017-2018,” Trachier said.
The team is expected to start playing in the spring of 2018, Trachier said.
The women’s lacrosse team will practice and play at Martin Field where the men’s and women’s soccer teams also practice and play, but there shouldn’t be any conflict, Trachier said.
“Their seasons don’t overlap,” Trachier said. “Soccer is a fall sport, and lacrosse is a spring sport.”
When the team starts practicing in fall 2017, they can condition and weight lift until their season starts, Trachier said. It is still too early to tell when their season will officially begin.
University President Frederick Slabach is excited about the growth the addition of the sport will bring to Wesleyan as well.
“We’re excited about the student-athletes it will attract to Texas Wesleyan,” Slabach wrote in an email.
The university has continued expanding its women’s athletic program throughout the years, Slabach wrote.
“Lacrosse is our next step in creating more opportunities for female athletes at Texas Wesleyan,” Slabach wrote.
Women’s lacrosse had been added to Texas Wesleyan’s roster of sports after the return of the football program in order to keep the university in compliance with Title IX, Trachier said.
According to ww2.ed.gov, Title IX states that “no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
Women’s lacrosse is a large team sport similar in size to a soccer team so offering it as a varsity sport will help meet Title IX requirements, Trachier said.
“Any time that you show that you’re trying to create more opportunity in sport for women it does help out,” Trachier said. “We think we’ll get around 25 [players], so that’s our target.”
Men’s and women’s lacrosse are common on the East Coast and around the Great Lakes, but are growing in popularity, Trachier said.
“It’s the fastest growing women’s sport in America,” Trachier said.
The NAIA is offering women’s lacrosse as an invitational sport, meaning all NAIA teams fielding the sport have the option to play each other, as opposed to just playing teams in their conference.
“There’s really not many opportunities in Texas or even in some of the surrounding states,” Trachier said. “We wanted to get out in front of it because since it is growing in popularity, we wanted to have that sport here in Texas.”
There are very few opportunities for lacrosse players in Texas; some schools offer clubs, but not scholarships. Since the teams are not all located in one general area, the team will have to travel a lot to play, Trachier said.
“Some of the NAIA schools that are participating are pretty far out,” Trachier said, “but we believe that it’s going to continue to grow in our direction.”
Lacrosse requires a lot of practice and commitment to create a good team, freshman Notre Dame lacrosse player Jacob Kanak wrote in an email.
“Our team practices five days a week in season for about two hours a day,” Kanak wrote. “We also have film sessions, positional work and team lifts. In the off season, we practice three days a week, and lift and condition three days a week.”
The player decides how much time is truly dedicated to lacrosse, though, since most athletes use their own time to work on stick skills and endurance, which is an important factor in the sport, Kanak wrote.
“Equipment on the guys’ side includes sticks, gloves, shoulder pads, elbow pads and a helmet,” Kanak wrote. “On the girls’ side it is very simple, a stick and a pair of eye goggles.”
The men’s team requires more equipment than women’s lacrosse because women’s is not a contact sport, Kanak wrote.
Kanak thinks it’s awesome that Wesleyan is adding women’s lacrosse to its athletic program.
“It’s always great to see the sport expand,” he wrote.