When John Atwood took over as Utah State men’s lacrosse coach in January, he gutted the program. The former player and his assistants scrambled to field a team and find success similar to what Atwood had in his nine years coaching at Sky View High School.
“They brought us in to a team that was not going to exist unless they hired a new coach,” Atwood said. “Long story short, we threw that team together in about three weeks.”
In the process, the team had to disassociate with the university. The team played eight scrimmages last year, but, with the chaos of the coaching change, the Aggies had to drop out of the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse Conference.
“We didn’t want our players to lose eligibility because we weren’t in a conference,” Atwood said.
Eight months later, Atwood is settled in and looking ahead to the future of Aggie lacrosse. He built Sky View lacrosse from the ground up, leading the Bobcats to a Division II state championship during his time with the team, and now Aggie lacrosse is back in the RMLC.
Atwood said he’s rebuilding the program with a relatively small budget, compared to other schools in the state. The Aggies have raised their dues, but it’s still just a small pittance to play the game they love. Atwood said it’s all a numbers game.
“If you play lacrosse at the University of Utah, it is $2,500,” said Atwood. “If you play for BYU, it’s $3,000, but they’re national champions, so they can do that.”
With those amounts, USU’s dues of $1,050 per player is just a drop in the bucket. The necessary increase has caused a drop in team members.
“Our numbers are down because we’re trying to change the paradigm of Utah State lacrosse, or at least Utah State students who are lacrosse players,” Atwood said.