Nowhere else they'd rather be
The Dolphins celebrated their NLC championship last season.
The Dolphins celebrated their NLC championship last season.
There are 30-some-odd players on the JU women’s lacrosse roster and 30-some-odd different reasons why they are here.

A unique system of play, warm weather, and practices on the beach … they all add up to a unique experience and players say they can’t, and don’t want to, imagine being anywhere else.

Senior captain Ellyn Spangenberg may be young, but she’s certainly smart enough to know a once-in-a-lifetime chance when she sees it. She was among the founders of the program.

“This is our senior class and it was a unique opportunity to start a new program and build a legacy,’’ Spangenberg said. “It’s been a once in a lifetime experience and teaches you a lot of things. That first year might have been hard, but we are much better for it. And, we have attracted the right people to the program.’’

Spangenberg believes the team’s system of work dictates a special player must be involved.

“At JU, we have a unique system and we run a unique style of play,’’ she said. “It’s all built on family, trust, love and it’s really cool that when you find the right people who fit into our system those are the people that stay and those are the people that matter.’’

Finding the right people falls, of course, to the coaching staff led by head coach Mindy McCord and the players say she’s responsible for continuing to foster the environment they enjoy. That environment includes a National Lacrosse Conference championship in 2012 and a move to the Atlantic Sun Conference in 2013 with the winner of the A-Sun getting a bid to the NCAA Tournament.

“They’re (the coaches) great. They have believed in us and they picked the right people to come here,’’ Spangenberg said. “They set up the system for us and the style of play we have is unique and they’re the ones that are making us believe it.’’

Senior Nicole Albino said getting the right people has helped foster life-long friendships.

“We have developed a family aspect with our team over the past couple of years,’’ Albino said. “We are really close and we hang out on the field, off the field, we have each other’s backs all the time. It’s a great experience and I have 30 best friends that I’ll never forget for the rest of my life. It’s pretty awesome.’’

Junior Ali Hoffman, the team’s leading scorer from last year, agrees that the team’s fast-paced, high-scoring style of play calls for unique players, but other aspects of playing at JU aren’t lost on her.

“I come from the north in Maryland and it’s really nice being able to play lacrosse in the warm weather,’’ she said. “Our preseason is always warm and on our off days we get to go to the beach. When they’re (players from northern schools) shoveling their fields, we’re playing in shorts and T-shirts.’’

- Jim Nasella