One of the fastest growing sports in the United States is finally poised to make its debut at Maryville University. According to a study by the New York Times, men’s lacrosse is one of only a few sports that are consistently growing in popularity throughout the country. University of Michigan’s athletic director, Dave Brandon, said about lacrosse, “The more we dug into it, the more we believed that this is just a sport of the future. Lacrosse’s trend lines in every way we could measure were impressive and made us believe that this is a place where we could grow and be a part of something that would over time be very big.” It seems that Maryville’s athletic department has taken notice about the growth that men’s lacrosse is receiving. The sport has been wildly successful on the east coast and is starting to spread to the rest of the country. With the demand for lacrosse at an all-time high, the team at Maryville is determined not to disappoint its growing number of fans.
There are sure to be challenges at every corner for this team. The most obvious of these challenges is the lack of participation in the sport. Considering that this is the first season that lacrosse will ever be played at Maryville University, numerous members of the team will be playing in their first game. Forget not playing lacrosse last year, some of the athletes on the roster have not played the sport ever. Only two members of the team were playing lacrosse last season. The lack of experience should create some obstacles, but nothing that this team isn’t willing to face head on. Head coach, Philip Newton, is excited about the opportunity to build a new program. Newton said, “It’s exciting because the players don’t know what to expect. Every game is chance to reach a goal and achieve a new milestone. Because the team is so new there will certainly be ups and down, but we are focused on building consistency, and building a culture and identity for this team.”
The roster is filled with incredible athletes who should provide fans with a youthful and exciting brand of lacrosse to watch. Junior captain, Brett Harris, said, “Our biggest strength as a team is our athleticism and our ability to be strong defensively.”
This team will certainly be entertaining to watch, but it is still unclear how successful this team will be. Newton and the rest of the team seem to be uninterested in defining their season with wins and loses. Newton said, “Our focus is to establish a culture on and off the field. Building a winning culture that does the right things on and off the field is what is going to define our season. We’re going to focus on the present, not the past or the future, and continue to improve everyday.”
The team will compete in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. The Saints will play a 15-game regular season schedule that will constantly challenge the members of the team. They will play 10 Rocky Mountain Conference games as well as five out of conference games against: Hendrix College, University of Tampa, University of Indianapolis, Ottawa University, and Lindenwood University.
Check out the full schedule here and go support our newest Saints team.
All photos by Nolan J. Berry