THURSDAY, APRIL 24, 2008
Jacksonville University to add men's and women's lacrosse for the 2009-10 season
April 24, 2008
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Jacksonville University will add men's and women's lacrosse as announced by JU president Dr. Kerry Romesburg and director of athletics Alan Verlander at a press conference, increasing the number of varsity sports sponsored by the school to 20.
"We are excited about the addition of two new sports that are emerging in our region," said JU president Dr. Kerry Romesburg. "Lacrosse is a growing sport and we look forward to being a part of its expansion in the southeast. We believe that this will generate interest in our institution and help bring awareness of JU to a wider audience."
The first lacrosse teams to don the green and gold will take the field in the spring of 2010 for their first regular season games.
"Lacrosse is a wonderful opportunity for Jacksonville University," said JU director of athletics Alan Verlander. "All of our athletic programs are building success and I believe lacrosse will be no different. Starting two programs from the infancy will be a fun challenge and I believe we have the right leadership in place to build success."
Taking over the reins of these new programs will be Mindy McCord, who will serve as the women's head coach and the director of lacrosse until a men's coach is hired.
"Mindy's passion for lacrosse and the experience she has in building start-up programs in Florida were quite important in our screening process," said JU director of athletics Alan Verlander. "She has a lot of connections in the lacrosse community and everyone that we talked to during the interview process had nothing but respect for her and what she has accomplished."
McCord brings a wealth of experience in building lacrosse programs from the ground up. She is the head women's lacrosse coach at Nease High School, having built the program from an informal club team to a perennial powerhouse. She is also the co-founder of Lax Maniax Premier Girl's Lacrosse Organization, which has helped educate, encourage and promote the growth of women's lacrosse in Florida.
JU will be third head coaching stop for McCord, but her first at the Division I level. She started her head coaching career at Oberlin College, earning North Coast Athletic Conference "Coach of the Year" twice while leading the school to two conference championships in her four seasons.
She then took over as the head coach at McDaniel College, transforming a stagnant program into a contender and a 10-win team in three seasons.
"I can't thank JU enough for the opportunity to build these programs from the ground up," McCord said. "The visionary leadership will pay tremendous dividends to the school and to the thousands of youth and high school lacrosse players in Florida and the southeast.
"JU lacrosse will be rooted in the south and the campus will become a hub of activity for lacrosse in our region. Jacksonville's strong commitment to the individual student and the focus on facilities and `building' is in line with my philosophy of lacrosse and my outlook for the future."
McCord's family is also heavily involved in the sport of lacrosse, with her daughter being ranked as one of the top up-and-coming prospects in the Southeast.
"Lacrosse is a family passion for us. We have all benefited from our enjoyment of the game, from the strong community and excitement that the game brings. This is what makes lacrosse the fastest growing sport on the college, high school and youth levels today. Merging the lacrosse community with Jacksonville University is going to create a very special place to get an education."
JU will be the only Division I school in the state of Florida to sponsor men's lacrosse and will join the University of Florida as the only schools to offer women's lacrosse at the Division I level.
Of the 84 Division I schools that offered women's lacrosse for the 2008 season, 75 are in the southern or eastern United States. In 2008, 55 schools offered men's lacrosse as a sport and JU will be the southernmost school to offer the sport.
With the addition of two new sports, the Dolphins will seek an affiliate membership in a league based on the east coast since the Atlantic Sun Conference does not offer a men's or women's lacrosse championship.
Currently, lacrosse is the 12th most popular sport among Division I women's programs. The NCAA has sponsored a national championship (one champion for all divisions) for women's lacrosse since 1982. 2001 was the first year for the Division I NCAA Women's Lacrosse Championship.
In the state of Florida, 62 high schools offered the sport during this season and Florida is sponsoring a state championship for the first time. Nationally, there are 477 college varsity and club teams in women's lacrosse, with more than 1,400 high schools teams sponsoring the sport.