By Charlotte Steele, Contributor
“Got ball, got ball!”, the women’s lacrosse team is in full swing practicing their defensive communication skills in a mark-up drill. Typically a spring sport, the team has been practicing three days a week during the pre-sea- son to prepare for their first season as a Kalamazoo College varsity program.
With huge interest among the players of the club team, and more feeder high schools to recruit from, the President started a working group to assess the feasibility of fielding a var- sity lacrosse team at K. The women’s team has begun its first season, with a men’s team to follow next year.
“I think it will be exciting for the College, it’s something we’re not used to,” said Athletic Director Kristen Smith.
The team is composed of 26 girls, 13 of them first years. Heading into the first season, Coach Emilia Ward recalls that she “hit the recruiting trail reallyhard.” She traveled to watch nearly every prospective player in person. Six of the first years are from out of state, drawing from Utah, New York and California.
The team is a unique mix of upper classmen who are adjusted to college life, but newer to the sport, and skilled first-year student athletes, each offering something different to the team dynamics.
Senior, and Co-Captain (along with sophomore Elizabeth Arellano) Anna Eshuis said, “We are learning so much from them skill-wise and game- wise, and they’re learning from us al- ready… like how to be in college and be on your own. I think everyone has done a really nice job of supporting and pushing each other. I haven’t been a part of a team that’s this much of a team, and it has only been a week and a half.”
Ward agreed, “They’re such a goofy group. They’re meshing faster than any other team I have been around.”
Clare Jensen, a first year, said that lacrosse was an important consideration for her when deciding to come to K, and was really excited to be a part of a new varsity program.“Everyoneis out there for the right reasons, because we love the sport. This is new to all of us… we’re all first timers in varsity lacrosse, so I’m excited to grow over the four years,” she said.
The team practices on the grass intramural field for the fall, and will play on the current soccer field, known as the soccer/lacrosse field for the spring. The scoreboard was built to accommodate lacrosse scores and the field has markings already to prepare for lacrosse’s different lines.
Ward said, “[The new facilities] showed the players the school was committed to their athletic experience. At the D3 level, you really can’t get any better.”
Ward came to K after helping to start up varsity programs at both Adrian and Winthrop College in South Carolina. She brings a lot of experience working with new programs, and has a clear passion for the sport and enthusiasm for the team.
“My favorite part about lacrosse is being able to play my sport, but also have friends to do it with and having that community. Team sports are amazing,” said Rachel Fine, a senior who started playing her first year at K.
The team will travel to Grand Rapids for their first “play day” this Saturday at GVSU where they will play 3 other teams including Indiana Tech, Finley, and Oakland University.