The University of Richmond men's club lacrosse team will be playing among some of the premier men's club teams in the nation within the next year.
The team, which was recently promoted to varsity club status, will officially move from the National College Lacrosse League to the more competitive Men's Collegiate Lacrosse Association (MCLA), which hosts a national championship. MCLA members include the University of Colorado at Boulder, Florida State University and the University of Michigan.
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. The university conducted a national search for a head coach and formed a committee to help narrow the group of more than 40 candidates who applied.
Men's club lacrosse president Clay Palmer was part of the selection committee and said he felt Richmond had hired the right person.
Carter's first official day as head coach was Oct. 11, and he has attended the team's twice-weekly practices and weekend games since. 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 A's," 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, he said.
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 toward new equipment, safe modes of transportation to and from away games and an athletic trainer for the team. Carter also said he was looking into getting his athletes preferential class scheduling for next year.
Tom Roberts, director of recreation and wellness said: "You will see that the club team will have new equipment and uniforms to proudly represent the university. Now, they will look like a varsity program when we see them dressed."
Apart from the changes off the field, Palmer said he was confident about how the team would 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."
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Senior defender Russell Gong said he had high expectations for the team.
"We all have different individual styles of play," he 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 was still uncertain as to the future of the program, but with 52 men on the roster and 38 underclassmen, he remained hopeful that the freshman and sophomores would be the core group that would 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 staff writer Bria Eulitt at firstname.lastname@example.org
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