Lacrosse has been taking off across the state and across the country in recent years, and USM isn’t far behind. Last year the men’s varsity lacrosse team got off the ground, and this spring will be the first women’s varsity season.
Lacrosse isn’t new to the athletics scene at the University, however. Back in the early 1970’s there was a women’s lacrosse team that had a short run of seven years and was eventually dropped for lack of interest. The same scenario played out with the men’s team around the same time. For about 20 years lacrosse was rarely seen on campus, occasionally popping up as an intramural or club sport, never lasting for long.
Then the tide of popular interest rose for lacrosse, and many Maine high schools have added it to their roster over the last few years.
“Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth, and Yarmouth have had teams for years,” said Al Bean, director of the Athletics Department. “But those aren’t schools we tend to get a lot of students from. Recently the sport has exploded in schools that feed more of our student base.”
Consequently, three years ago several students requested the start of a women’s lacrosse team. They held a few meetings, but attendance was low and without a coach the club never got off the ground. The next year they tried again, and got as far as practicing regularly and holding scrimmages.
Convinced that there was a solid interest base, last year the Athletics Department hired Dottie Catlin to coach a women’s lacrosse club with the intent of bumping it up to a varsity sport in 2001. Nadia Glucksberg, a seasoned player from Cornell, signed on as assistant coach, and the team took to the field for a regular club season.
Coach Catlin left the program at the end of last season to begin graduate studies. David Vendetti, an experienced ice hockey coach was hired to fill the duel women’s ice hockey/lacrosse coaching position. Though he doesn’t have a history of coaching lacrosse, it is anticipated that with the help of assistant coach Glucksberg they can pull together a strong team.
“He’s a really hardworking person,” said Bean, “and the players like him.”
More than 20 women have expressed interest in joining this year’s team, and Vendetti is excited about the first-season potential. He is holding an informational meeting for anyone interested on Wednesday, January 24 at 6 p.m. in the classroom at the ice arena.