by Andrew McCulloch
For longer than most care to remember, the St. Thomas lacrosse team has struggled to perform at the level of the school’s other athletic programs.
The team’s win total has never exactly been something to boast about and neither is this year’s 2-11 record.
But nevertheless, the team has continued to attract new members at a steady for the past several years. These newcomers are interested in learning a new, popular sport and helping to turn the program around.
Freshman Jack Culwell had several different reasons for picking up lacrosse.
“I wanted to try something new,” Cullwell said. “Plus I had some friends in the sport.”
Junior Alex Perez had similar motives to join the team his freshman year.
“I wanted to play lacrosse because while I have played other sports before, lacrosse was one I had never tried,” Perez said. “And it seemed like it would be really fun.”
Although freshmen continue to join at the start of every new season, the overall size of the program has noticeably shrank within the past few years.
But the team’s on field performance and record are not the only issues attributing to the decrease in membership.
Being such a young program, the lacrosse team is still experiencing many of the growing pains associated with a new sport.
Having been in the program for several years, Perez is very familiar with some of the obstacles and growing pains that have plagued the lacrosse program.
“Our freshman year there were some serious changes in the coaching staff, and only two years before that we switched from division two to division one,” Perez said. “We’re a relatively new program, and we’re competing in division one with teams that have been around for much longer than we have.”
Another major obstacle facing the program is that many freshmen join the team with little to no prior experience, a problem that other St. Thomas teams rarely are forced to deal with.
“I don’t know what happened last year,” Culwell said. “All I know is that it was hard for a brand new team with players that had never played this sport to go against division one teams who have been playing together since 6th grade and are very good.”
Given the amount of obstacles, it is understandable why the lacrosse program has struggled as much as it has over the past several seasons. The players ask for the school’s patience while they continue to improve and raise their expectations.
“The pressure of improving not only for our team’s sake, but for the public status of St. Thomas athletics makes it harder for our team to improve,” Culwell said, “especially with all the negative outlook from other students.”
“Next season we hope to make it to the playoffs, which is a very real possibility if we focus and really work hard at it,” Perez said. “I think we have a really good group of juniors to lead the team next year.
“Every junior is a good lacrosse player and has good leadership, so next year should be a good year for the lacrosse team.”