Eastern Mennonite University announces the addition of women's lacrosse to its athletic program. Director of Athletics Dave King says EMU will hire a head coach in the spring of 2017 to begin recruitment, with competition beginning first at the club level before moving into the Old Dominion Athletic Conference for the 2018-19 season.
"I'm thrilled that we will be able to provide more young people the opportunity to develop life skills through playing a collegiate sport," he said. "As we continue to understand what collegiate sports do for young people and the campus community, it's exciting to expand our sport offerings."
The search for EMU's first women's lacrosse coach will begin immediately, with a start date of June 1, he added.
"Recruiting lacrosse players will get us into geographic areas that are important for the university as we work at enrollment growth. I'm convinced there are high school student athletes who will be excited about being part of history by helping to start women's lacrosse at EMU."
Jim Smucker, vice president of enrollment and student life, points to the growth of the sport across the United States and the high academic success of female athletes as among the benefits of the new program.
According to the NCAA's 2015-16 participation report, women's lacrosse is the second- fastest growing collegiate sport in Division III, with 17 new programs added. This continues an overall growth trend with the sport through all three NCAA divisions.
Additionally, NCAA research highlights that women's lacrosse athletes in Division III are among the most successful student-athletes in terms of their academic success (graduation) rate.
"Expansion of our athletic offerings, and specifically, this women's lacrosse program, means that more high-achieving students can experience what it means to be a student-athlete at Eastern Mennonite University," Smucker said. "The unique challenges and leadership opportunities that athletics offers contribute to a special curricula of leadership growth and experience."
The Royals will be the 11th team of 13 ODAC schools that already compete in women's lacrosse.
EMU currently sponsors 17 Division III athletics teams, eight for men and nine for women. Women's lacrosse becomes the 18th. The most recent sport to be added was men's and women's golf in in the 2012-13 academic year.