In less than a year, the University of Richmond men's club lacrosse team will be playing among some of the premier men's club teams in the nation, including the University of Michigan, Florida State University and the University of Colorado at Boulder.
The team, which was recently promoted to varsity club status, will officially move from the National College Lacrosse League to the more competitive MCLA, the Men's Collegiate Lacrosse Association, which hosts a national championship.
Not only did the team receive varsity status, but a full-time head coach was hired earlier this month — former Ursinus College coach Glen Carter. A national search for a head coach was conducted at the university and a committee was formed in order to help narrow the more than 40 candidates who applied.
The men's club lacrosse president, Clay Palmer, was part of the selection committee and said he felt as if Richmond hired the right person.
"Out of all the interviews we did, Coach Carter was the best," Palmer said.
Carter's first official day as head coach was Oct. 11, and he has attended the team's practices (two per week) and weekend games since then. Although he has only been on the job for a little more than two weeks, Carter has already had four high school students commit early-decision to Richmond to play for the team.
Because Richmond has now become a varsity club lacrosse team, Carter will be able to work closely with admissions and go to high schools to meet with coaches and student athletes.
"This university has what I like to call the four As," Carter said. "Academics, atmosphere, athletics and alumni."
Carter plans to recruit high academic achieving student athletes who may not be getting the looks from top Division I or Division III schools but who are serious about playing lacrosse in college.
Recruiting is not the only benefit of the new varsity status for the men's club lacrosse program. The team will also receive significantly more funding, almost $130,000, which will go towards new equipment, safe modes of transportation to and from away games, and an athletic trainer for the team. Carter also mentioned that he was looking into getting his athletes preferential class scheduling for next year.
"You will see that the club team will have new equipment and uniforms to proudly represent the university," said Tom Roberts, director of recreation and wellness.
"Now, they will look like a varsity program when we see them dressed."
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Apart from the changes off the field, Palmer said he is confident about how the team will do this season.
"We are a completely different team from last year," he said. "We have much more talent and we have lots of senior leadership."
Senior defender Russell Gong said he had high expectations for the team.
"We all have different individual styles of play," Gong said, "but the important part is going to be bringing them all together."
Roberts announced that he did not have any intentions to turn the men's varsity club lacrosse team into an NCAA program.
"We know that in three years we will be in a better position to ask ourselves if an NCAA program is even a possibility," Roberts said.
Keeping this in mind, Palmer is still uncertain as to the future of the program, but with 52 men on the roster and 38 underclassmen, he remains hopeful that the freshmen and sophomores will be the core group that will take Richmond men's lacrosse to the next level.
"I'm optimistic that the team will stay competitive," Palmer said, "and that we'll be playing in the National Tournament in Denver."
Contact reporter Bria Eulitt at email@example.com
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