Campus News

Will men’s lacrosse become a reality at Bethel?

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DSC_2647 Remember how excited the majority of campus was when women's lacrosse was added to our athletic roster and how much love and support there was for the new team? Well, now imagine that type of love and support for a new men's team of the same sport. That’s exactly what the rumblings on campus have been about throughout the past semester, and the Beacon has done some digging to find out if the rumors of a men's team are in fact true. I first talked to Austin Adams, a junior studying physical education, who is essentially heading up the idea of a men's lacrosse team. I first asked him about what caused him to desire to have a men's lacrosse team. "Senior year of high school, my school got a lacrosse team and I played and really loved it,” Adams stated. “And coming into college, I came in to play soccer, but I also really want to play lacrosse. I wanted to push for a lacrosse team my freshman year but we just didn't have enough guys interested. But, since we've gotten a women's team I figured we could try to push for a men's team.” So as Adams and several other men at Bethel desired a lacrosse team at Bethel, the job of forming the team became the next task on their minds. According to Adams, as well as Benjamin Andrews, senior business administration major at Bethel, many aspects of forming the team are already in the works. "We have a coach, we've been talking about ways to raise money, ways to get players, finding a space and time to practice which we have mostly figured out," stated Adams. "This fall, we went out and found a coach, who is actually the son of the women's lacrosse team,” stated Andrews. “So we have a coach locked down and we have more than enough players to fill the team. So right now we're not having official practices but every once in awhile we'll just go out and play catch.” Andrews also shared that the issue of budget, as well as space and equipment, are already issues that he and others have been thinking about. "We already have a little bit of a budget that we could work with because of the connection of our coach and the women's lacrosse coach,” he said. “Space and equipment will be pretty easy to share.” As both Adams and Andrews stated, the student desire and involvement are at the levels needed for a team. The next step is getting the team approved by the athletic director and the board. "It's just now going to the athletic director and making a pitch for it," stated Adams. "We're just waiting for the official ‘yes’ from the AD, and then we can go from there," echoed Andrews. Since it appeared as though all that was left to do was get official approval for the team, I spoke directly to the athletic director about his stance on the potential sports team addition. Overall, Tom Visker, Bethel's athletic director, appeared to be highly in favor of the potential addition of a men's lacrosse team. "Our main goal as an athletic department is to have an impact on as many students as we can and help them grow in their spiritual walk with God,” said Visker. “The more teams we have, the more people we have a chance to influence and impact. A men's lacrosse team could also probably bring another 20-30 male students on campus.” Aside from the fact that the team could attract potential new students to Bethel, Tim felt as though adding the team would bring an entirely different culture to Bethel's campus. "Anytime you add a team that's a fairly unique team, like we did with rugby and women's lacrosse, you bring a new element and culture to the campus," he stated. Although Visker was highly positive about the potential new team, there were a few aspects of the concept that required more critical thinking. "The biggest stumbling block we have for adding any new team is facilities,” he said. “Our facilities both indoor and outdoor are absolutely maxed out right now; it would be very difficult to add more than we already have right now.” However, as Benji and Andrew both shared, the group has thought about issues such as facilities, but interestingly enough, according to Visker, no one has actually approached him about adding the new team. "No one has approached me about adding it,” said Visker. “I've seen some guys out there on the lacrosse field and I've heard rumors that they're guys that are interested but no one has ever come to me about making an actual team.” Visker shared some other steps that would be involved in adding a new team aside from simply coming to speak with him about the possibility. "Once someone comes and speaks with me the next thing that happens is there would have to be a formal proposal and that would have to be presented to the cabinet, and then pending their approval the final approval would then be the board of trustees," he stated. If the team does get the approval, there would be a high probability that they could be a fully funded varsity sport at Bethel. "If the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) adopts men's lacrosse, which I think they have or are very close to doing, we could plug in right away with a NAIA schedule; then we could jump into it as a varsity sport. That also means it would be fully funded by Bethel," he stated. Although many feel it would be wonderful for Bethel to get a new team, and it would have a large impact on Bethel's campus, Visker did offer a word of both caution as well as encouragement to those interested in forming the team. "The proposal needs to be well thought out, even just as a club,” he warned. “They shouldn't just automatically think that they're going to be able to get a field anytime they want because we just can't do that. But, I would encourage them to keep working at it.” So for those of us on campus who are looking forward to the potential new team, we'll just have to wait and see if it can be approved before we can run out to the field and cheer on our fellow Pilots!
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