The 2020-21 season sees Wilson College add the eleventh sport to our division-three program with women’s lacrosse being introduced in the Spring. Wilson becomes the seventh school in the Colonial States Athletic Conference (CSAC) ensuring a spot for the CSAC at the national tournament. CSAC commissioner Adrienne Mullikin states, “Wilson will become the seventh core member in the conference to sponsor women’s lacrosse in 2020-21.”
Women’s lacrosse has a strong history at Wilson College, beginning the program back in the 1934-35 season. However, the program stopped in 1984 due to the difficulty in fielding a team which coincided with low enrollment at the time. Moreover, softball was the new sport of that season as the Wilson College archives note, “Wilson students have played softball in high school and more colleges have softball teams than lacrosse teams.” Lacrosse was not continued due to a lack of funding, as it was classified as a club sport and faded out of the Wilson athletics program.
However, like a phoenix, women’s lacrosse is rising out of the ashes and making a comeback. Women’s lacrosse is the fastest growing NCAA women’s sport of the past fifteen years. Wilson Director of Athletics Lori Frey highlights that women’s lacrosse is one of the most-played sports in high school and students are looking for places to play. Wilson over the past few years has had good experiences with recruiting and establishing new programs and feels confident they can replicate that again in this new program.
Wilson has sent out a nation-wide search for coaches and has received many applicants. A coach will be appointed next year, allowing them time for scouting and recruiting. A search committee will be tasked with recommending a coach, comprising of associate directors Jeremy Shepard, Shelly Novak, Vanessa Whitfield of Admissions, Katie Kough from Student Development and Dr. Lynn Newman, the faculty athletic representative. Lori Frey will also be involved in the ultimate decision.
Over the past five years, Wilson has been rapidly expanding and growing in numbers and the athletic department has played a key role in the growth. With the establishment of men’s sports and the recent success these programs have had, Wilson is keen to continue this upward rise. For College Vice President for Enrollment Management David Boisvert, “Expanding our athletics offerings is a strong component of Wilson’s overall enrollment growth and student retention strategy.” Wilson is not looking to establish any more programs in the foreseeable future, focusing on the success of the baseball and ultimately women’s lacrosse programs. According to Frey, there is no plan for a men’s lacrosse team yet or any other sport, however could potentially be “part of the discussion.”
There is a concern for space on campus for all sports in terms of practice and games. Women’s lacrosse will play at Kris’ Meadow on campus where the men’s and women’s soccer teams play. Lacrosse, being a spring sport, will not clash with soccer although faint lines may be painted in during the fall season of 2020-21. According to Frey, the ultimate goal will be for men’s and women’s soccer, field hockey and women’s lacrosse to play on the one turf field on campus. The location is still to be determined.