Sports / The Prairie Fire / May 6, 2010

Knox lacrosse: the phoenix edition

Upon arriving at Knox, some students find long-existing, well-established clubs and activities that suit their interests. For others, it can be a little more complicated.

“When we arrived on campus, we were under the impression that there already was a women’s lacrosse team,” said sophomore Lizzy Johnson.

Unbeknownst to Johnson and fellow originators, sophomores Bridget Dooley and Charli Smith, the women’s lacrosse team had disbanded mid-season a few years prior due to a lack of interest. After finding this out, the three decided to take action.

“Last spring, we tried to have a club team, which pretty much consisted of Bridget, Charli and I passing a ball around three times a week,” said Johnson.

Having failed to generate enough interest to form a team in the spring, Johnson, Smith and Dooley knew they would have to go to greater lengths to establish a successful, sustainable team. With that in mind, Johnson and Dooley drove to Ohio to appeal to the board of the Women’s Collegiate Lacrosse League about re-entering.

“The board still wasn’t happy about the team suddenly dropping out a few years ago,” said Dooley, a sophomore from Brookfield, Illinois. “They put the pressure on us to find a group of girls that we could trust with the commitment-which I can definitely say we did.”

“A lot of girls came out this year and were interested in playing,” Johnson said.

The team practiced indoors during the winter and games started spring term. Having assembled a group of interested and somewhat experienced lacrosse players, the team needed a coach and nabbed sophomore Andy Hill.

“Andy’s great,” said Johnson. “He keeps us in line at practices and makes sure everything runs smoothly.”

“He was a big part of our success this year,” said Dooley. “I’m sure he’ll continue to inspire in the future.”

Evidence of the team’s success lies not only in the improbable formation of a team after a significant falling out with the WCLL a few years ago, but also in the amount of girls who came out. Needing to field 12 for a game, the roster stood at 17 at season’s end.

“Most of the girls had played before,” said Dooley. “But there were some brave enough to come out knowing very little about lacrosse. They basically had to learn everything from scratch: how to throw, catch, cradle and shoot—which is quite a daunting task.”

With a mix of novices and veterans, the team struggled in their WCLL contests. Although the team had a full roster, weekday games were often a problem, as conflicting commitments forced the team to compete with just 11 players at times.

Aside from the often-lopsided WCLL matches, the team twice beat Monmouth College-no small feat for a Knox College team, club or otherwise, this year or any other.

Johnson and Dooley also stressed the importance of in-game experience.

“What we did learn this year is that we have the potential to compete,” said Johnson. “And we know that heading into next year.”

“Regardless of experience, everyone made incredible progress,” said Dooley.

Following a successful sort-of-inaugural season, Johnson and Dooley plan on building on their strong foundation.

“We just want to improve every year,” said Johnson. “This was the first year, so we worked out all the bumps and figured out how the league games worked. Next year we’ll go into the season more informed, better prepared with the traveling and planning.”

As for attracting new teammates, Dooley doesn’t foresee much trouble.

“Getting the word out is key. I feel like once you start playing lacrosse, you’re hooked,” she said. “It’s just a matter of getting people to try something that may seem scary, but, in reality, is mankind’s greatest creation.”

Kevin Morris

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