If you were to walk around the IU campus today (or really any day of the year), and ask people what they thought about the lacrosse team here, most people would probably tell you that they werenâ€™t even aware the school has a team.
Well hereâ€™s the good news: Indiana does have a lacrosse team. A team that right now doesnâ€™t have a strong fan support, nor much money for the program, nor eye-popping facilities. I wanted people to know after the storm has passed (last year and possibly this upcoming year), the sun can shine bright on the future of Indiana lacrosse.
The Past: Last season the Hoosiers had a rough season, from start to finish. The team finished last in the 1A South GRLC (Great Rivers Lacrosse Conference), with a 0-2 record in the division, and a record of 2-12 overall on the year.
The 1A South division, for those who donâ€™t know, consists of Miami (OH), Missouri, and Lindenwood (MO). Lindenwood finished at the top of the division, followed by Missouri, then Miami (OH). Lindenwood would eventually move on and play in the National Championships bracket, but lose to the top-seeded Michigan Wolverines in the first round.
The highlights of last season were victories against in-state rivals Ball State and Purdue, as the Purdue victory was a hard-fought 12-10 victory in front of a home crowd on April 13. Also, junior Matt Anderson finished the season 5th in goals with 38. Anderson expects to return this upcoming season and go out with a bang his season year.
The Present: In the offseason, head coach Peter Tumbas went out and hired Pete Nelson to be one of his top assistant coaches.
Nelson played during his college career at Minnesota-Duluth, where he was a three-time All-American and four-time All-Conference member. He led the Bulldogs to three National Tournament appearances in his four years there.
Not a bad college career.
Nelson is expected to make an immediate impact on the coaching staff and team, as Tumbas has said that he will be involved in all aspects of the Hoosier lacrosse program.
With only 3 seniors leaving after last year, this is a team hoping to make the leap and turn into a serious contender in the division. After the first week of practice last week, Tumbas has said on the Hoosier lacrosse website that theyâ€™re light years ahead of where they were last season after the first week.
Teammates are developing stronger chemistry with each other, as they participate in film sessions, chalk talks (review of plays), and study tables together.
The Future: After a dismal year last year, I think we can expect big things from this team in the future, as the storm has hopefully past.
What makes it so hard for a club lacrosse team to succeed is recruiting — if you can even call it that. Since Indiana is a club team, they canâ€™t give out NCAA scholarships (or illegal benefits, if youâ€™ve been up-to-date with the recent college football world). So basically, the men that come to Indiana donâ€™t come to play lacrosse; theyâ€™re here more for educational purposes.
The key is to develop better high school lacrosse programs and youth programs in the state of Indiana. The reason Northeast lacrosse is so successful and contains so many NCAA teams is because kids there start playing lacrosse at a young age, and develop great skills by the time theyâ€™re older. If a kid is a decent athlete, you can turn him into a good (or great) lacrosse player.
Since many Indiana high schools send their kids to Indiana University, theyâ€™ll also be sending them great lacrosse players to help out the team.
Now Iâ€™m not saying Indiana lacrosse will be a big-time Division 1 program anytime soon, but they can take steps in the right direction to get there, and the future looks bright for the program.