Women’s lacrosse beats other clubs for varsity spot

Courtesy Photo / grandvalleyrowing.com
Members of the Womens Rowing team pull during the Wichita Frostbite Regatta. The womens did not become a varsity sport.

Courtesy photo

Courtesy Photo / grandvalleyrowing.com Members of the Women’s Rowing team pull during the Wichita Frostbite Regatta. The women’s did not become a varsity sport.

Brady Fredericksen

1GVSU Athletic Director Tim Selgo, who oversees all varsity sports at the university, said the school initially considered rowing, bowling and lacrosse and is currently in year three of implementing the lacrosse program.

After hiring head coach Alicia Groveston on Jan. 12 last year, the team was officially formed and will begin competitive play this year. Being in the third year of that five-year plan, the school will continue to add money for scholarships and expand the program further in the final two years.

“We, on an annual basis, audit our programs on where were at in regards to Title IX and we thought it was time to expand our offering of women’s sports,” Selgo said. “I think that one of the primary factors is that there are more colleges and universities in Division II that offer lacrosse as a sponsored sport than rowing. We just didn’t see other schools that were going to add rowing as a sport and we could see more and more adding women’s lacrosse.”

The number of high school teams, specifically locally, participating in lacrosse also played a factor in the school’s decision to go with it over rowing or bowling.

“Lacrosse is exploding at the youth level,” Selgo said. “It’s a nice fit for us because it’s a sport very similar to soccer, only soccer is a fall championship sport and lacrosse is spring.”

The Lakers’ league will have five teams next year and hopefully six participating schools added shortly after, Selgo said. The team will also compete against some GLIAC opponents.

GVSU’s first varsity sport, rowing, was also in consideration for the program. A part of the school since 1964, rowing remained a varsity sport until 1980 before being cut and subsequently saved by former wrestling coach Dr. Jim Scott and other alumni.

Since then, the program has seen its share of success and regularly competes all across the country against Division I varsity teams.

“The real issue is that many other schools in the GLIAC don’t have rowing teams,” said Bob Stoll, associate dean of the Office of Student Life. “Rowing is a good example of a club program being successful, but with it being a club and not involved with the NCAA, it lacks the level of support that an NCAA sport would require.”

That support comes from scholarships and other expenses that would be paid for if the team were a member of the NCAA. Those students who participate in the rowing team pay $1,200 in dues a year and are “home grown,” said GVSU head coach John Bancheri, whose team competes in regattas from San Diego, Calif., to England, competing against the likes of Harvard University and the University of Cambridge and University of Oxford in the Henley Royal Regatta.

“If you look at what we’ve produced, it’s amazing compared to our resources,” Bancheri said. “Over time you’ve had all this great support of the alumni and the work of the students and student life. They’ve helped to build a great program”

The success on a national stage has made them one of the top club sports at GVSU. They also boasted one of the highest GPAs (3.4) of all sports on campus last season. Despite their status at the club level, Bancheri said the team is fine where they are if they’re supported at the level they need to be.

“We’re running and we’re competing at a high level. We figure a lot of ways to make it work,” he said. “We are a diamond in the rough at a great university, and if the diamond is shining as bright as it is, I say let it shine and support it.”

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