By Samantha Thompson
When many club teams began practice, ready to say hello to a new season, one team had to say its goodbyes.
This year is the first time since the early 1990s that UC Santa Cruz women’s lacrosse is without a team.
“It’s frustrating,” club sports director Kevin “Skippy” Givens said. “But I’m not surprised.”
For the past few years, the team has struggled to find an involved and steady coach along with enough of a student interest to keep a solid number of players on the team.
“We had the bare minimum of what we needed, which means one or two subs,” said senior Kate Cummings, women’s lacrosse player. “We had to go through that last year and it was just miserable. People were tired and other teams had twice as many people as we did. We kind of knew it would be the same struggle as last year, and we didn’t do very well last year.”
But the biggest issue for the team that really put it under was the inability to find a coach, which has been a big struggle for some time and even resulted in team members having to act as coaches.
The team was left high and dry this season, after a promising coach decided not to come back, without informing the team of his departure.
“During our season last year, our coach kept saying, ‘Next year we’re going to do this and that,’ so we assumed that he was excited and willing to be our coach for following year,” junior Rebecca Truong said. “I guess it was a bad assumption on our part, but when we wanted to start preseason, we contacted him about being our coach and he just didn’t return our calls.”
This left team members with little time to find a new coach before the season started. They advertised through Craigslist, KZSC and many other outlets, hoping for any responses to give their season just a glimmer of hope.
“I got zero responses,” Cummings said. “We went to a meeting for the league and they took names down for teams that needed a coach. So even they advertised it, and they have the best connections, and still didn’t even come up with anything.”
With that final blow, team members discussed the option of dropping the team altogether due to all the problems they had been facing.
“I don’t want lacrosse to die,” Truong said. “But we were having issues and still hadn’t found a coach, and it was getting close to season. So [Cummings had to make] the executive decision to get rid of the team and to get out of league.”
Disappointed players are dealing with the absence of the team, which would be nearly halfway through its regular season by now.
“I was completely miserable,” Cummings said. “I’m still miserable. It’s really sad because this is my senior year and I was really looking forward to it.”
Now team members are looking ahead to next year and are looking to find the means to put their team back together again.
“I’ve never heard of anyone doing this before,” Cumming said. “It’s difficult because you have to start out as provisional team, which means any games you play don’t count for anything, so it’s hard to get teams to want to play you.”
Despite the difficulty, team members have their minds set on getting their team back.
“I’ll definitely say that we’re going to try to get the team back up and running next year because I’m still going to be here,” Cummings said. “We’re really going to push to get a provisional team again and slowly work our way back into the league.”
But should the team be resurrected, it will be some time before it will be able to get back to its Tier 1 club status, and even then, many of the same obstacles would remain.
“It’ll probably take two to three years to get in the league,” Givens said. “This is a natural sport for UCSC. Ten years from now, it’ll be big, but it’s just not here yet.”
Team members haven’t given up hope.
“I would hate to leave Santa Cruz without having there be a lacrosse team,” Truong said. “So if you know any lacrosse coaches out there…”