Pssst…want an athletic scholarship? Can you play Lacrosse?

Lacrosse teams are popping up all over the college landscape.  And they all need to recruit players.

In a poll of the NCAA’s multisport conferences conducted by the Associated Press, lacrosse was most often mentioned among the sports being added to college programs.  There are 12 men’s lacrosse teams and 20 on the women’s side that have been started this year alone.

Lacrosse was considered for a long time as a niche sport, pretty much limited to the New England states.  But Arizona, among other western states, is becoming a hotbed for participation.  Arizona State is ranked No. 4 nationally, according to the Prodigy MCLA Top 25 poll, and University of Arizona ranks 16th on the list.

In fact, the top five college teams in the country in Division I are from Michigan, California, Arizona, Colorado, and Utah.  The UofM Wolverines are the two-time defending MCLA champion.

So much for the East Coast influence.

And the roots are beginning to take hold at the high school level here in the desert.  An article in The Arizona Republic pointed out that there are 25 boys’ lacrosse clubs in the Valley and 15 high schools have girls’ lacrosse programs.

The ASU club lacrosse coach, Chris Malone, also discussed the local growth he has seen.  Three years ago, there were 75 players in his youth program and now there are 225.  At ASU, his fan support has grown from about 300-400 fans for a game to over 5,000 for his first game this season.

Nationally, a lot of the explosive growth has been at the Division III level, due in large part to the economies of the sport, where equipment purchase and travel expenses are all it takes to field a team.

Lacrosse is catching on for a lot of reasons.  It’s a fast-paced game that allows for a lot of scoring, combining elements of other popular sports like hockey and soccer.  The kids like that, but so do the fans in the stands.  And, from the school’s standpoint, it doesn’t take a big budget to make the sport work.  Hey, a bunch of sticks and a couple of balls.  What can that cost?

Arizona got its start in lacrosse back in the 60’s when the first club was put together.  Today, two of its colleges are nationally-ranked and high schools are adding lacrosse programs on a yearly basis.

According to NCAA statistics, there have been 42 men’s lacrosse teams and 88 new women’s teams added to college programs over the past 10 years. And they all need players.

So, get out the stick and ball and begin practicing.  Your college scholarship awaits.

(Photo courtesy Southwestern University)