Wartburg College has announced that it will be adding women’s lacrosse as the school’s 20th varsity sport. The Knights expect to be ready for competition in 2015. Wartburg Athletic Director Rick Willis says that lacrosse is one of the fastest growing collegiate sports.
“As we researched lacrosse and kinda how it might fit at Wartburg College, we came to the conclusion that as fast as the sport was growing and moving toward the west, it was something that was going to happen eventually,” Willis says. “It was something that we wanted to be at the front end of that in terms of getting the program started.”
While lacrosse is typically thought of as an “East Coast sport,” Willis says it has become increasingly popular in some of the larger cities in the Midwest. He says they don’t think they will be recruiting players from the east, but will go into larger cities like Milwaukee, Chicago and Minneapolis-St. Paul.
This is the first time Wartburg has added a new sport since 1989, when the school began offering soccer. Willis says he wouldn’t be surprised to see lacrosse experience a similar boom in popularity to what soccer has seen in the past two decades. “I think that’s sort of what we gathered from our research, is that there is a likelihood that the lacrosse growth would sort of maybe mimics what we’ve seen in soccer, so that’s why we wanted to move forward at this point,” Willis says.
Willis says that Wartburg has been considering the addition of lacrosse for several years, and notes that there is still a lot to sort out before the Knights are able to take the field for the first time. He says they have to find a coach who can come in and get the program off the ground.
Wartburg becomes the third school in Iowa to announce plans to offer lacrosse, after Loras College and the University of Dubuque, whose women’s teams began competition last month. Willis notes that there are several other programs in the works in nearby states including Illinois and Minnesota.
By Jesse Gavin KCNZ Cedar Falls