By Nathanael Hawthorne
The Youngstown State University athletic department has a storied tradition of championship teams, with accomplishments from football and cross country. As of the 2020-2021 academic year, another sport has been added to the YSU tradition: women’s lacrosse.
In February 2019, YSU’s athletic department announced the establishment of a women’s lacrosse team. In just nine short months, the Mid-American Conference, known as the MAC, announced that YSU and the University of Detroit Mercy would be joining the conference as an affiliate.
The inaugural season for the MAC also coincides with the first season YSU will participate in the sport. Other teams in the conference include the University of Akron, Kent State University and Eastern Michigan University.
In a press release, MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher announced the addition of these programs and the sport to the conference was a historic occasion.
“This is truly a historic day as women’s lacrosse has been a topic of conversation among our membership,” Steinbrecher said. “The addition of women’s lacrosse adds to our already broad offering of championship opportunities for student-athletes. I am already looking forward to the inaugural season.”
With the creation of the program, YSU hired the program’s first coach, Theresa Walton, in July. Despite this being her first head coaching job, Walton doesn’t lack experience. She was an assistant coach at Virginia Commonwealth University and played at Canisius College.
Now, that a coach has been hired, the process of recruiting players to build a roster begins.
According to Walton, the team has the opportunity to start with a blank slate. She plans to pull players from all over the East Coast.
“Within the 2020 class, we have 10 different states represented [and] a couple Canadian [players], so Canada will be a big draw just with how close we are to that as well,” she said.
Walton said a typical lacrosse team carries roughly 30 to 35 players at any time. During a game, anywhere from 18 to 25 players are rotated on and off the field.
“It’s a fast sport, so there’s a lot of subbing in between the box lines and then making sure that you’re playing that transition game up and down the field fast,” she said. “It’ll be nice [to] play around the systems [this] first year and then really start to recruit the players that are going to fit into certain spots within the team.”
The lacrosse practices will take place at the new Cafaro Family Field on YSU’s campus. For now, the team will be playing home games at the Covelli Sports Complex. Walton also plans to use the Watson and Tressel Training Site.
“Sharing the Farmers Field with women’s soccer won’t cause a problem with scheduling,” Walton said. “It’s great to have the WATTS indoor facility, but it’ll be nice to use that new turf field for camps, clinics and practices in the fall when necessary.”
The first season will start in the spring of 2021, and the schedule will be made available soon.