After perusing the Gatorzone website over the last couple of days I noticed that there is a link up on the "Sports" drop-down menu dedicated primarily to UF's newest athletic venture: Women's Lacrosse.
The introduction of this program will give Florida another women's sport to increase their number of female athletes on campus in Gainesville, something that colleges are continually trying to do these days.
For those of you who know nothing about this sport, don't worry -- you're not alone. I am well aware that lacrosse is a popular sport around this country, particularly up North, but I was not educated on the foundation it has in the state of Florida. Nor was I aware of how quickly it is growing in college athletics programs around the Nation.
- The UAA studied the interest level and ability to put together a viable team for various sports. Lacrosse is sponsored by the Florida High School Athletic Association (43 teams in the state in 2004-05) and other high school associations in neighboring states. The sport is also played at the club level at UF.
- Competition in the eastern United States is readily available, as 75 of the current 80 Division I women's programs are located in the southern or eastern United States.
- The NCAA conducts a national championship for the sport of women's lacrosse. From 1982-2000, lacrosse was a national collegiate championship (all divisions), but the NCAA has sponsored a Division I Women's Lacrosse Championship since 2001.
- Lacrosse is one of the nation's fasted growing sports for women. NCAA women's lacrosse teams have grown 83% in the ten-year period ending in 2004-05, which ranks third behind women's golf (123%) and rowing (90%).
Now, Gators' lacrosse is not all of a sudden going to start playing right away. The site outlines the projected path the program will take up to their scheduled start in during the Spring of 2010. This build-up will include raising funds, building a facility and hiring a coaching staff.
As Gator fans it is now your duty to read up on lacrosse and stay aware of the progress being made, as it will be the newest program to compete in Gainesville (that's not really an order, but I'd suggest it). It's a pretty exciting time for the University Athletic Association, as they hold the football and basketball national championships, the basketball team is trying for a second-straight title, and there are new plans in place to start a program from scratch.