North Texas Daily

Lacrosse teams see bright future for sport at UNT

Lacrosse teams see bright future for sport at UNT

Lacrosse teams see bright future for sport at UNT
February 20
00:30 2014

Ehsan Azad // Staff Writer

Past the popularity of sports like football and basketball, lacrosse has created a small yet growing movement as one of the current lesser-known sports at UNT.

The men’s lacrosse program has been officially listed as a club sport since 1996. But despite its club status, the team is a semi-varsity program that takes player fees, features the school logo and is allowed to play games on campus unlike other schools in the conference. Both the men and women’s teams hold practices and play home games at Traditions Field, across from Fouts Field.

“We’ve come a long way since the program started,” men’s volunteer head coach Rick Harper said. “It keeps getting bigger and bigger.”

Harper has been playing lacrosse since he was 5 years old and coached at both the high school and college levels. When he heard that UNT was in search of a head coach this year, he jumped at the opportunity to get back into coaching. When he arrived, Harper said he noticed that the previous coach did not know how to coach lacrosse.

“The previous coach wasn’t good, so we have to redo a lot of stuff,” Harper said. “It is going to take a while, but it’s going to pay off.”

The team plays in an independent conference called the Lone Star Alliance. The LSA has 20 other college teams from Oklahoma to San Antonio, such as the University of Texas, the University of Oklahoma and Texas Tech University.

The conference holds playoffs to determine who moves on to play in a national tournament, similar to what college basketball has for the NCAA tournament.

Anyone who wants to play for the team must be a full-time student and sign up through UNT Rec Sports. For the funds required beyond what the team is provided by Rec Sports, players pay a fee to help fund for the league, travel and hotels.

The women’s lacrosse team has more difficulty recruiting new players, however. The team is a member of the Texas Women’s Lacrosse League, which consists of schools such as Texas A&M University, Rice University, and Louisiana State University.

“Whenever we try to recruit people for lacrosse, they say it’s too hard,” biology senior Victoria Mengden.

The team doesn’t get as much recognition as the men’s team, but that only helps fuel their competitive nature. The attendance for their home games ranges from 15 to 20 people, which is about 20 less than what the men average at their home games – but team hopes to expand that number with better exposure.

They advertise through the recreation center, flyers, and social media as well as recruiting at freshman orientations. Player-coach and marketing senior Sarah Bodish said it’s the fastest growing sport right now.

“I could see it becoming a full-fledged varsity sport with the backing of the university,” Bodish said.

Biology sophomore Brandon Onstott agreed with Bodish. He has played lacrosse for nine years and loves how different it is to other sports, comparing it to hockey without the ice.

“It’s moving down here ever so slowly, but in two years it will be pretty big,” Onstott said.

Onstott said that he wishes the UNT Recreation Center could be more organized, but that he has seen UNT lacrosse grow in his past year with the team.

“It’s a great group of guys and we love what we do,” biology sophomore Brandon Onstott said. “It’s like being in a fraternity.”

Psychology junior and goalie Paul Wahlstrom said that it is rare for lacrosse players to find teams in Texas and is thankful to be on a team.

“It is just a privilege for me to play this sport in Texas,” Wahlstrom said.

Wahlstrom said he sees lacrosse growing, especially with the concussion concerns with football.

“With the drama that is going on with football, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a huge change in the sports environment,” Wahlstrom said. “I could see lacrosse on the same level as hockey in the next 10 years.”

The men and women’s lacrosse team contact information can be found at the UNT Recreation Center website, https://recsports.unt.edu/.

Feature photo: Chemistry sophomore Cody Pruitt looks for an open player to pass to during a scrimmage last Thursday at Fouts Field. Photo by James Coreas / Staff Photographer 

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