Lacrosse is one of the fastest growing sports in all of America with hundreds of high schools and universities all over the country having some sort of team. According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association, men’s lacrosse numbers grew from 139 teams in 2003 to 380 in 2018. Some schools though, like Southern Utah University, don’t have a school-sanctioned team, so students would need to create a club if they want to continue to play the sport after high school. Thanks to team coach and club president Kieran Richards, that is finally a reality.
Richards played lacrosse throughout high school and had a few scholarship offers to play the sport at other universities. He ultimately chose to come to Southern Utah University for the academic scholarship they were offering him, but later realized that there was no lacrosse team. Taking matters into his own hands, he decided to start the first ever SUU Men’s Lacrosse Club.
About three months ago, Richards contacted Cedar High School lacrosse coach and Iron County Youth Lacrosse League founder Josh Hill for advice and assistance.
“We work closely with the Student Involvement and Leadership Center and other student government positions to build good relationships with them and to help get more students involved at SUU,” said Richards. “Lacrosse is one of the fastest growing sports in the nation and we hope to make SUU the hub for the growing sport in Utah.”
Richards explained that most of the recruiting was done through school events like Paint the Town Red, the Homecoming Parade, club events and word of mouth. Most of the players on the team have approached Richards directly and asked to play.
Eventually, Richards hopes to gain enough support around the University that men’s lacrosse will become a sanctioned sport. It would be a long and complicated process, but Richards wants to make it happen. The sports would need to continue to gain support across the state to become sanctioned.
Richards has already recruited notable talent in order to establish a reputation among the school’s club. Grant Hyde looks to be their go-to option with his strong shot and knowledge of the game. Hyde grew up in St. George and brings seven years of experience with him. Hyde helps coach the lacrosse program at Cedar High School, and it was there where he met Coach Hill and got involved with the club at SUU.
“A goal as a team [in this first season] is to establish ourselves as a respectable club,” said Hyde, “and prove to the rest of the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association that Utah — especially Southern Utah — is a force to be reckoned with!”
Another of the team’s notable players is Anthony Jojola, a freshman biology major at SUU. He has been playing lacrosse for six years and can play both attack and offensive midfielder, but plans on focusing on attack this season.
“I believe this is going to be the start of an amazing organization and team,” Jojola said. “I couldn’t be happier that I get to continue my [lacrosse] career.”
The lacrosse club has already begun practicing every Monday and Wednesday from 5-6:30 p.m. on the practice field east of the Eccles Coliseum. They are hoping to schedule a scrimmage with Dixie State University, but so far their first official scrimmages will be in an early-November tournament in Las Vegas. The scrimmages will be key in preparing for the regular season, running from February to April where the team will be playing other schools from this region like Dixie State University, University of Wyoming, the University of Utah and Utah Valley University.
The best way to find information about the club is on social media. Anybody interested in joining or learning more about the SUU Men’s Lacrosse club can reach out to @suumenslacrosse on Instagram for more information and updates on practice schedules.
Story by: Christian Esparza email@example.com
Photo Courtesy of @suumenslacrosse