sophomore Serena Shen rushes downfield toward the net, protecting the ball from her teammate during a practice scrimmage. Photo by Alex Zamora.
Sophomore Serena Shen rushes downfield toward the net, protecting the ball from her teammate during a practice scrimmage. Photo by Alex Zamora.

Like a nomadic clan trekking across desert plains and harsh climates, the women’s lacrosse team has moved throughout the UC Santa Cruz campus, playing lacrosse wherever they go as they try to find their way as an independent team on campus.

“We’ve tried to practice at so many different places, but we always get kicked off,” freshman center Laura Harris said. “We’ve practiced on the tennis courts … got kicked off by the tennis team; basketball courts, got kicked off because supposedly they don’t let the men’s lacrosse team practice there [either]. We’ve even practiced out here at the College Eight fields.”

On this day the team is practicing at the basketball courts of College Eight in the pouring rain and howling wind. Lacrosse is a winter sport, so a little rain isn’t anything new to the team — however, not being able to hold practice due to the location issue is one of several ways that the team is negatively affected by its lack of an official affiliation with UCSC.

“It doesn’t help that we’re not actually associated with the school,” Harris said. “So we literally have no support from the school, which makes it difficult for us to use the fields and the facilities.”

The process of becoming affiliated with UCSC and OPERS, however, is a hefty task.

“We have been told that there is a cap on the number of club teams allowed, which has been reached, so they are not accepting any more right now,” first-time head coach Cara Couture said. “We would have to petition the whole school, get signatures saying how people want more club teams, and then that gets reviewed. … It’s just a long process.”

Women’s lacrosse was considered a club team until 2008, when a lack of interest ultimately led to disbandment.

“The team just kind of fell apart, lost interest unfortunately, for a couple of years,” Couture said. “No one kept the team going.”

Sophomore Janine Sung, the club’s president and team captain, came to UCSC in the fall of 2008 when there was no women’s lacrosse team.

“I came here freshman year and I was really disappointed to find that the school did not have a women’s lacrosse team, despite advertisements on the OPERS website,” Sung said.

As a result, Sung went out and began recruiting any girls she saw with lacrosse gear.

“I ended up talking to anyone I saw with field hockey sticks, helms, or gear from previous teams,” Sung said. “We now have a roster of 30 girls who are extremely dedicated with lots of talent, and it just makes me excited for these next couple of years.”

The team is currently 1-4, but its members are trying to keep this season in perspective considering it is their first year back.

“The season hasn’t been that bad for us, despite having four losses and a win,” Couture said. “It’s our first season back, so we are still rebuilding and just striving to revive this program.”

Regardless of how the rest of the season goes, Couture is planning to return as the team’s head coach next year.

“I would like to come back next year,” she said. “I have no plans for leaving Santa Cruz, so I would love to come back and coach these girls again.”

Meanwhile, Sung continues to work toward reinstating the team’s official club status.

“We’re going to keep talking and trying to gain back our status,” she said. “We’re going to keep bugging them and hope that they will let us come back on as a UCSC-affiliated club team.”