Lacrosse debuts at OU this spring

Posted by Janae Melvin on September 29, 2015 in athletics, Braves, lacrosse One of the fastest growing sports in collegiate athletics will make its debut on Peoples Bank Field this spring when the Ottawa University men’s and women’s lacrosse teams step onto the turf. And just because they will be the new kids on the field doesn’t mean men’s head coach A. J. Stevens doesn’t have high hopes for the Braves.

“Our goal is to secure a winning season in year one,” said Stevens, “and continue to build our team toward becoming a national championship caliber team.”

Under the direction of Stevens and women’s head coach Brittany Frankenfeld both teams will compete for Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC) championships in their inaugural season after the conference added lacrosse to their list of championship sports in July.

“The KCAC adding lacrosse shows the continued effort of our conference to serve the needs of its member institutions,” said Stevens, who also serves as president of the Men’s Lacrosse Coaches Association. “NAIA institutions are in a great position to help thousands of high school lacrosse players continue their career at the next level with the help of athletic scholarships to fund their education.”

With the continued growth of the sport at the collegiate level, the NAIA recently gave unanimous support for lacrosse to operate under “National Invitation” status. Currently, there are 27 men’s
and 30 women’s teams slated to compete as NAIA National Invitational members this year. Should the National Invitational prove successful, the possibility exists that the NAIA could grant both sports “National Championship” status. Until then, KCAC members will continue to seek additional growth to strengthen the sports’ status within the NAIA. The KCAC is the third conference in the NAIA to sponsor lacrosse.

Lacrosse, which originated as a Native American sport, shares similarities with basketball and hockey. Teams work to advance the ball towards their opponent’s goal with a combination of running and passing allowing for fast-break opportunities and offensive set plays. On the defensive side of the ball, the contact between players can become quite physical as players work to gain possession by intercepting a pass, dislodging the ball from an opponent’s stick or blocking a pass or shot.

Stevens expects to have 26 new student-athletes competing this season with similar numbers for the 2016-2017 academic year. “We have a strong recruiting class coming in and feel we can compete with anyone in both the KCAC and the NAIA.”

Now that’s something Braves Nation can raise a lacrosse stick to.