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There’s a new club sport at Lincoln University, a sport that is not often offered by HBCUs: lacrosse. Yes, lacrosse: one of the fastest growing sports in the country where such powerhouse schools as University of Maryland, Johns Hopkins and Duke have dominated in recent years. Yet, lacrosse programs on HBCU campuses are few and far between.
However, considering that former Syracuse University and Cleveland Browns running back Jim Brown was also considered one of the greatest lacrosse players to ever pick up a stick, the fast growing sport is not new to black America. Yet when Hampton University in 2015 became the first Division I HBCU to field a lacrosse team, there were only four other HBCU varsity programs in the country, half of which were women’s teams.
In fact, there was a short-lived women’s lacrosse team at Lincoln. Formed in 1970 as one of the first women’s sports programs at the school, along with volleyball, tennis and basketball, the program was coached by Clementine Sloan, a member of the U.S.
Women’s Lacrosse Team. The team played briefly in 1971. In fact, a lacrosse team had been discussed as early as 1947, according to an article in The Lincolnian. The impetus behind the current lacrosse club— which will have a men’s team and a women’s team— comes from Lincoln students Devin Adams and Natalya Coote and others who met with athletic director Harry Stinson about the possibility of forming a club program on campus.
“After meeting with the students we thought this would be an excellent way to increase sport offerings for students at Lincoln and provide additional ways for students to have a co-curricular experience,” says Stinson. “Lacrosse is a prime sport in the region that Lincoln University serves and with Lincoln being a premier liberal arts institution having a sport such as lacrosse would truly diversify the student population.”
Adams played at Bel Air High School in Maryland. Initially recruited elsewhere for lacrosse, when that personal goal did not work out he enrolled at Lincoln in fall 2017. “I’ve been playing since fourth grade, and I also played club ball where I truly developed my love for the game,” says Adams. “I was playing throughout the summer, traveling and playing different people and continued to play club ball while in high school and my goal was to play college lacrosse.”
My love for the game didn’t go away,” says Adams. “So I wanted to start the lacrosse club so I could continue to play.”
Last spring, the first meeting to gauge interest in the lacrosse program drew about 40 students, 20 men and 20 women, along with Stinson and Brandon Olaya, then an assistant athletic trainer. Last fall, Adams and other club members began raising funds during football games. A “gofundme” page was also created as well as social media accounts on Twitter and Instagram. A few thousand dollars was raised for the program, which continues to consider fundraising ideas.
Through a contact with US Lacrosse, Olaya —the unofficial coach and club administrator— set up an introductory clinic that was held in Manuel Rivero Gym on February 2. Lacrosse field lines were also painted on the auxiliary turf field and goals and balls were purchased. The team submitted an application to begin playing in the National College Lacrosse League (NCLL) and two club teams from Morgan State and Cabrini universities expressed interest in playing Lincoln in club exhibition matches.
“Ironically,” says Olaya, who played lacrosse for Vineland High School in New Jersey, “Lacrosse is the reason I am an athletic trainer. My junior year I was blindsided during a game and tore my ACL. My athletic trainers at VHS helped me get back for my senior season, and from that I wanted to 'pay it forward' and then went to college for athletic training at Rowan University.”
Adams hopes to see the interest continue to grow. “Right now we have about 70 people in our group chat that are interested in playing. We don’t know if all of them are going to play this spring, but we hope all will come out. The interest here on campus is there – it’s just a matter of them coming
out and us providing the opportunity for them.”
“I would love [in the future] to see lacrosse, men and women, become a varsity sport here at Lincoln,” says Adams.
“We are excited about the future of lacrosse,” adds Stinson. “The club's success could potentially turn into a varsity program but the expansion of club sports at Lincoln is one of the focuses and my vision for the Athletics and Recreational Services Department.
“Finding new ways to connect with students and providing opportunities for them to compete is key to the success of Lincoln’s future. Spring 2019 is the official launch of the program with a couple of exhibition club competitions with hopes to join a club conference in the spring of 2020 for a
complete robust schedule.”
With students like Adams and Coote leading the way, along with the support of the athletic department administration, the lacrosse club is on its way to becoming a success on the Lincoln campus.