The Plattsburgh State Department of Intercollegiate Athletics made the announcement on April 11 that PSUC would be adding women’s lacrosse ahead of the 2018-19 season.
Like men’s lacrosse, the women’s team will join the SUNYAC conference, becoming the 10th and final SUNYAC school to sponsor the sport.
For PSUC, Director of Athletics Mike Howard, it’s been a goal that he has wanted to achieve ever since arriving at his job.
“My understanding is that there were talks about 10 years ago when the turf field was put in to add women’s lacrosse, and those talks resurfaced a couple years ago,” Howard said. “As I was looking at Plattsburgh as a place to continue my career as an athletic director, when I looked at the sport offerings I raised the question of, ‘Why not women’s lacrosse?’ It was high on my agenda from the time I accepted the job.”
This marks the first addition of a sport to the PSUC Athletic department since baseball was reintroduced in 2002. Howard remarked on the reasons why now the right time to make the addition.
“I think it was two-fold,” Howard said. “From an enrollment perspective, you’re always trying to find ways to encourage more students to come to Plattsburgh. From a budget standpoint, we already have the field and the locker-room space, so it was a sport we could add with very little expense.”
When talking about the same topic, Director of Athletic Communications Brian Savard added some reasons from the “grow the game” perspective.
“Women’s lacrosse is the fastest growing sport in the NCAA, and we were the only SUNYAC school that didn’t have a women’s lacrosse team, so it was a natural fit there,” Savard said.
“Also, it’s the perfect time to be a key driver and be in a leadership position to grow the sport in the community. Currently, girl’s lacrosse is not contested in high schools in Section 7. We’re hoping that adding this sport will help grow the sport in the community.”
There were also hopes that the addition will not only help new recruits and the community, but also students that already go to PSUC.
“Whenever you add a new sport, your first year you’ll be drawing a lot from within (the existing student body) to be able to fill the numbers,” Savard said. “Over time, whoever is named coach will recruit their own athletes.”
Recruiting won’t just affect the women’s lacrosse coach, though. According to women’s soccer coach Tania Armellino, the addition of women’s lacrosse could help her get recruits that she’s lost in the past.
“Even this past year we had a young woman who was a very good soccer player, but also a very good lacrosse player,” Armellino said. “She really wanted to play both, but we couldn’t offer that, so I do know from past experiences that it’s something that could help us. I really feel that it could open up another niche to talk to recruits and be able to now offer it.”
For men’s lacrosse head coach Joe May, the addition will provide a chance for some kind-spirited rivalry.
“We all love to see our teams do well across the campus,” May said. “A couple years down the road when women’s lacrosse is practicing and our guys see them working hard, they’ll want to work that much harder. Competition breeds success, and I’m all for it.”
That’s not to say that building the team will be easy. The college will begin looking for a coach in June, and whoever it finds will have to build a program from the ground up. It will take a special candidate to be able to do that, which both coaches agreed upon.
“The main thing is looking for someone who has the passion for the game and for building something new,” Armellino said. “It’s special to be a part of an inaugural season and build an inaugural team. You’ll also need someone who has great knowledge of the game, and someone with the commitment to building something where there was nothing before.”
“Like anything in life, you get out what you put in,” May said. “First and foremost, they’ll need to look for somebody who’s willing to work hard, because it won’t be easy. There’s not really any local high school teams around here to recruit from, so you have to build a program and get out and recruit, which takes energy. You’re going to need somebody who comes in and really wants it, and wants to build something.”
The team will make use of all the current facilities used by the men’s team, and will join a long list of current women’s sports including basketball, cross country, ice hockey, indoor and outdoor track and field, soccer, softball, tennis and volleyball.
Ahead of all of that, though, Howard spoke on just why the addition was the right thing to do.
“It adds a lot to our campus culture,” Howard said. “It adds a lot to the SUNYAC as a conference, and it provides more opportunities to our female students, so from a lot of different angles it was a great thing to do.”
Email Ben Watson at firstname.lastname@example.org