Lourdes debuts lacrosse teamsWritten by Jay Hathaway | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Lourdes University is geared up and ready to roll with its newest collegiate sports team.
The Lourdes Gray Wolves lacrosse program is about to being its inaugural season for both men’s and women’s teams.
The men’s team features a roster of more than 20 players, mostly from the Toledo area, and is coached by Patrick Yannarelli. The women’s team has 16 players, and is coached by Paul Sieben.
Both teams play in the Wolverine–Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC), a Division II conference of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).
The men’s team was also recently granted membership in the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association (MCLA), a national organization of college lacrosse programs.
Lourdes Athletic Director Andre Smith said lacrosse may not be a popular sport in this area now, but he believes its level of excitement is helping it gain popularity across the US.
“If you’ve never watched lacrosse, it’s a very high-paced sport,” he said. “It’s something that you definitely have to come out and see.”
“I think as time passes, it can be something that is more common in the area,” he added.
Sieben, a Long Island, N.Y., native, started playing lacrosse in seventh grade, and has been playing, coaching and officiating ever since. He switched his focus to girls’ lacrosse after he had three daughters and coached the St. Ursula Academy lacrosse team for 14 years, a program that he started.
Last year, he was asked to help start the Lourdes program, and was hired as its first women’s head coach.
Sieben began the recruiting process last summer, which left him little time to put his first team together.
“We had trouble in the fall, but I think that’s primarily because we didn’t have time to get the word out,” Sieben said. “Once we got the word out, we [started] getting a lot of recruits.”
Sieben cited Lourdes’ academic reputation as one of the more attractive recruiting tools, which helps bring in student athletes who are committed to excellence.
“It’s a bonus that they can play college lacrosse, as well. We’re getting good interest from coast to coast.”
Lourdes now has recruits from New York, Texas and California, who have signed on for next season. Smith praised Sieben’s effort in the process.
“Our coach is doing a great job recruiting. [Lacrosse] brings in new opportunities for who students who may not have considered Lourdes.”
Smith added that, since Lourdes is part of the NAIA, it can offer athletic scholarships to reward outstanding student athletes.
“Each team is allotted a scholarship amount, and it is up to each coach to decide who receives scholarship money,” Smith said.
As for the current roster, Sieben said some have played lacrosse before, and some are walk-ons who have played other sports, but not lacrosse.
The women’s squad practices every morning from 6-8 a.m., Sieben said. A typical practice starts with a jog, followed by stretching, then stick skills and other lacrosse-specific drills, offensive and defensive. Later, the women may run game-situation drills or long-distance running.
Smith said since there are more women’s teams than men’s in their conference, and in general, the women have a busier schedule.
The first game for the women’s team was originally scheduled for Feb 22, but was canceled due to snow and icy conditions. They are now looking to open the season at Baldwin Wallace in Berea on March 1.
The men open up at home against Oakland University at the Lucas County Rec Center at 11 a.m. March 8. A women’s home game is not currently scheduled.
Both teams will play some home games at the Rec Center, as well as others at Ottawa Hills High School and Central Catholic High School.
Sieben said there are several tough teams in the conference, but noted that Indiana Tech, conference champs from last season, may be the team to beat.
“They had an outstanding team [last year], including one of my former goalies from St. Ursula,” he said.
Both teams will play around 20 to 25 games, and the season runs into late April.
“We’re looking forward to it, and I think we have the buzz in the air, so we’re very excited,” Smith said.
“As soon as we get some good weather, we’ll be ready to go.”
For more information, including complete schedules, visit www.lourdesathletics.com.
Tags: Division II, Gray Wolves, Lourdes Athletic Director Andre Smith, Lourdes University, Men's Collegiate Lacrosse Association (MCLA), National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), Wolverine–Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC)