By Jeremiah Gonia, Sports Editor
For everyone who will be enrolled in the 2014-2015 school year, expect to see some new athletes around campus. Men’s and women’s lacrosse have been added as the 16th and 17th collegiate teams at Asbury. The hiring process for coaches is under way and will be complete by the spring so that a whole year can be given to recruiting and starting the new programs.
“The NAIA doesn’t sponsor lacrosse as a championships sport, so we technically won’t be part of the NAIA for lacrosse,” Sports Information Director T.J. Budd said.
Asbury will seek membership in the National Women’s Lacrosse League (NWLL) and the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association (MCLA) since the NAIA currently does not have enough members for the sport to be recognized as a championship sport.
“There are about 35 total men’s teams and 22 women’s teams from NAIA associated institutions, but 50 are required for NAIA to recognize,” Budd said.
Lacrosse is one of the fastest growing sports in America, with nearly a 50 percent increase over the past seven years in high school sports, according to the National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) and nearly 30 percent at the collegiate levels.
“Asbury starting its own team gives high school lacrosse players the opportunity to play the sport they want at a university,” senior Randy Troyer said. “The experience can help them grow spiritually as well.”
The lacrosse season takes place in late spring, so it should not interfere with any of the other team schedules.
“The major thing we will have to do as a department is be strategic about scheduling to avoid conflict as much as possible, but no one will be asked to do anything different,” Budd said.
The addition of two more collegiate teams adds to the burgeoning storage issue at the Luce.
“I think in the near future it will be necessary to expand the Luce to include specific locker rooms for individual teams,” Troyer said. “The Luce is a very nice facility, but it simply isn’t big enough to accommodate the teams we have now, let alone two more lacrosse teams.”
Needless to say, even with potential storage questions, the university is primed and ready to go to begin the process of adding lacrosse here at Asbury.