The University of Colorado recently announced its plans to add women’s lacrosse as a Division I varsity sport, and the CU women’s club team is nothing but ecstatic.
The “Red Hot Lady Buffs” believe that the addition of women’s lacrosse at the varsity level is a step in the right direction for CU athletics.
The club team will remain, and senior team captain Avery Toothman thinks it will actually grow stronger.
“There’s a lot of fear that a varsity team will draw all the competitive players away from club,” Toothman said. “But really, when you think about it, it’s just pulling in more players.”
While many athletes will be drawn to CU initially because of its varsity team, some may end up moving to the club level as a more manageable commitment. Toothman said the club team offers enough competitiveness to appeal to even the most serious athletes.
“I honestly consider our team to be as competitive as D1,” Toothman said. “We’re hoping to keep the standard up for the club team.”
The varsity team’s competition schedule is set to begin in spring 2014. CU will conduct a nationwide search for a coach, and while the athlete-recruiting process will also be nationwide, the focus will be on in-state students. Denver University is currently the only school in Colorado that offers D1 women’s lacrosse, so CU will offer Coloradans a unique opportunity to attend an in-state public university as a student athlete.
In addition, players on the club team will have the opportunity to try out for varsity, and several already have plans to do so.
Club team head coaches Jess Tomlinson and Dan Finck said they may or may not participate in the coaching search and recruiting process for the D1 team.
“We’re waiting to talk to the Athletic Department more and see what our roles are going to be and what opportunities are available to us,” Tomlinson said.
Senior captain Sara Tanabe said CU has been monitoring other schools that offer both club and varsity lacrosse teams, using them as models for success.
“We’re trying to base our D1 program on how other schools have operated,” Tanabe said.
For Tanabe, Toothman and fellow senior team captain Audra Horton, though, the focus right now has to be on the club team’s upcoming season. These team leaders will have graduated once the varsity team starts up, and they hope to make the most of their final season as Buffs.
“We have a goal of winning nationals this year,” Toothman said. “We’ve been here for three years. It’s time … I think we have the chemistry and opportunity to go all the way.”
The Lady Buffs begin their regular season this weekend as they head to Santa Barbara, Calif., for the UC Santa Barbara Tournament. There, they will take on the University of Oregon, California Polytechnic Institute, the University of Pittsburgh and UC Santa Barbara.
“I just want to play,” Horton said. “I want to get to Santa Barbara and get out on the field for the first time.”
Some may get the chance to play D1 lacrosse in two years; others may not. But the players on the “Red Hot Lady Buffs” all have one thing in common: a love for the game.
Contact CU Independent Sports Editor Caryn Maconi at Caryn.firstname.lastname@example.org.