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Daily Archives: September 24, 2008
“Victory Collegiate Consulting” And Tom Kovic Presenting “College Athletic Recruiting Seminar” At Foothill High School In Santa Ana, CA On November 4, 2008
Sep. 23, 2008
UCLA Women’s Lacrosse first team meeting will be Wednesday, October 1st at 8pm in the Games Lounge in the John Wooden Center. This meeting is mandatory for all new and returning players.
Other important dates:
*Friday October 3rd, 3-5pm: Returning UCLA Players Only Practice
*Monday, October 6th, 5-7pm: “Introduction” Practice
No-pressure, no coaches, everyone welcome, just come try it out! Sticks will be provided to those who need them.
*Wednesday, October 8th, 5-7pm: First Day of Practice
Fall Quarter practice schedule is: Mon/Wed 5-7pm, Fri 3-5pm
All practices will be held on the IM Field.
by Jac Coyne, Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff
When the search committee at Fresno State University initially contacted Sue Behme, the coach at Nazareth (N.Y.) College for the past nine years, about the coaching position for its fledgling women’s lacrosse program, her initial response pretty much summed up the conventional wisdom about the school’s decision.
“My first reaction was, `What are you guys, crazy?’” laughed Behme.
Adding the sport to an institution located smack dab between San Francisco and Los Angeles isn’t part of the lunacy. In fact, both those cities are becoming as fertile in girls’ lacrosse as the rich soil in the San Joaquin Valley where Fresno is located, and could eventually provide Fresno with a pipeline of talent. It wasn’t the facilities or support, either, as home games will be played in Bulldog Stadium and the team will have the full compliment of scholarships from the beginning.
It was the timeline.
Fresno State officially announced the addition of women’s lacrosse on Jan. 7 with the assumption it would start varsity action in the spring of 2009. If the Bulldogs play their first game on March 1 (their schedule is incomplete), there would be less than 14 months to start a program, recruit student-athletes, put together a schedule, work out travel plans and hire a staff.
This accelerated timeline is in stark contrast to the calculating manner in which many athletic departments start a program, be it lacrosse or others. Oregon, which will be one of Fresno’s conference opponents in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF), announced the start of its women’s lacrosse program and hired its coach in 2003, with its first game coming in the spring of 2005. Florida was even more deliberate, adding the sport in June 2006 with intentions to debut in the 2010 season.
Unfortunately, Fresno State did not have the luxury of a methodical build up. Because of a disproportionate ratio of scholarships between men and women — not the typical problem of lacking a proportional number of opportunities between the genders — the athletic department needed to add sports that have a relatively high number of scholarships in relation to team size to become compliant with Title IX.
Because women’s lacrosse has a favorable ratio of student-athletes (typically 23 or 24) to scholarships (the NCAA max is 12), it will continue to emerge as a logical option for institutions facing gender equity issues. For Fresno State, it is part of the perfect solution.
“The way our numbers will work out, among the I-A institutions, we’ll be as compliant and close to hitting the quantifiable requirements of Title IX as any school in the country,” said Thomas Boeh, Fresno State’s athletic director. “We’re going to be at the very top of the list.”
Betsy Mosher, the senior associate athletic director at Fresno State, was a member of the Gender Equity Task Force appointed by the school’s president to tackle the scholarship dilemma. She said the goal of the task force was to not only find numerical solutions, but also to update their department.
“I think we wanted to not only bring in a sport — swimming — that brought back something that was very strong here, but we needed to be a part of the new California, the wave of the future, and lacrosse certainly fit that,” said Mosher.
The challenge was to find a coach who could not only construct a workable Division I program in a year, but also one who would embrace the duty of growing the sport in California. Fulfilling this mandate would seemingly lead Fresno State to a scouring of the ranks of Division I assistants for a young, high-energy candidate who knew the drill, but had the charisma to shrug off the inevitable early struggles Fresno State would face. But the athletic department was attempting to accomplish something outside of the norm, and in doing so they needed to ignore the path most traveled.
Enter Sue Behme.
“What we were primarily looking for was that person who had the enthusiasm and drive, because the reality is there’s a difference between starting a program and just maintaining a program,” said Boeh. “It is going to take a certain type of person to start from scratch. In this particular case, given the youth of the sport, Sue just knocked everybody’s socks off.”
Behme is a live wire; a perfect fit for the program despite not having any Division I experience. At 37, she has the savvy to know what she is getting into, but the 20-something mentality that rejects any kind of constraint on the future. And, to be honest, the immediate future might be grim.
Behme is stacking the schedule with the best teams she can find, along with a stiff MPSF schedule that includes Stanford, Denver and Oregon. This despite the fact only 16 players were committed to the Bulldogs’ roster as of mid-July, and those are either converts from high school basketball, softball or soccer, or incoming freshmen recruited at the 11th hour. Unlike Oregon, as well as forthcoming varsity programs at Florida and Boise State, there is no club program on which to build at Fresno State.
When pressed about the certain futility of the upcoming season for the Bulldogs, Behme raises her chin and welcomes the challenge.
“I don’t set any limits on myself as a coach, on my student-athletes, or on my program,” she said. “I know a lot of people would assume certain things, and that’s fine, whether it’s wins and losses or whatever. I don’t gauge my coaching philosophy on assumptions. These 16 kids I’ve talked to so far, they’ve said, `You know what, Coach? We very much believe in the same things you believe in. The better teams you play, the better you get quicker.’ Period. Either you jump in full force or you don’t, and we’re in it full force.”
“Suffice it say, we’re going to get beat up a little bit next year, but that’s to be expected,” said Boeh. “I think it’s another reason why Sue Behme is such a good fit for us, because she has that enthusiasm. When the time comes where they have to keep their heads up and keep plugging, knowing they are making progress every week and that this is just the beginning of the program — that takes a special personality to be able to work through that. Most important is to establish the proper culture in the program. Working hard and being respectful of each other — that’s what never goes away whether you win or lose; having the culture.”
It’s tough to get a feel for the culture from the players yet. Despite Behme’s claim of having 16 kids already in the fold, there will be no official student-athletes on the women’s lacrosse team until they pass through the NCAA Clearinghouse and satisfy other compliance necessities. That wasn’t scheduled to happen until early September.
Until then, it’s impossible to even find their names, never mind garner an interview. It’s just another part of the wacky nature of Fresno State women’s lacrosse right now. Fortunately, the Bulldogs have a coach ready to embrace the craziness.
“Once they offered me the job, I said, `You know what, is there a better challenge?’” said Behme. “And if anybody can do it, I can do it. This is going to be an experience of a lifetime. I know my value system and that I do things the right way.
“You’ve got to start somewhere, right?”