MCLA Adds Women's Lacrosse


NORTH ADAMS, MASS. - Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) announces it has added women's lacrosse to its NCAA Division III line up, to compete within the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) as an intercollegiate sport.

Director of Athletics Scott Nichols said women's lacrosse is a great addition to the College.

"We are extremely excited to add another sport," Nichols said. "It's an exciting time for the Athletics program at MCLA, and we look forward to expanding our opportunities."

The seventh women's team to be added to MCLA's athletics program, women's lacrosse was included after a thoughtful process, Nichols said. "It's one of the fastest-growing sports in the country. It was a perfect fit for us, the Conference, as well as Berkshire County."

Berkshire County high schools added lacrosse as a varsity sport over recent years. In addition to being popular across Massachusetts, many high schools in New York include lacrosse in their athletics programs.

According to U.S. Lacrosse, no sport has grown faster at the high school level over the last 10 years. It's also the fastest-growing sport over recent years at the NCAA level.

Rebecca M. Pike '15 of Troy, N.Y., participated in lacrosse throughout high school, as did Natalie Caney '17 of Belchertown, Mass. Both women also play for MCLA's women's soccer team, and are enthusiastic about the opportunity to compete in both sports.

"Lacrosse becoming an official varsity sport for women is something I have been anticipating since I entered my freshman year," Pike said. "I am very grateful that I get to play one more time before I graduate college and start a new chapter in my life. What better way to close my senior year of college than with the sport I love."

Caney added, "I love lacrosse because it has some of the same aspects as soccer. It's also fun to play with something other than a soccer ball. Using a stick is a challenge, and I love a challenge. I love that I can have a sport to play other than soccer. I wouldn't have chosen any other sport besides lacrosse."

MCLA's team, which has been playing for the past year or so as a club, will be coached by psychology professor Dr. Maria Bartini.

According to Bartini, she has been passionate about lacrosse since she began playing it at the New York State high school she attended. Then, she lettered in lacrosse three times and was named the outstanding female athlete and the most valuable player for lacrosse.

"Lacrosse combines elements of both soccer and basketball, so I was hooked. It's a fast-paced game with lots of scoring and running, which just fits with my high-energy personality," Bartini said. "I'm very excited to have this new opportunity. I've really enjoyed coaching ever since I took my first principles of coaching course as an undergraduate at the College of William and Mary."

Like Caney and Pike, Rachel Green '17 of Petersburg, N.Y., and Kaitlyn Brown '16 of Adams, Mass., played lacrosse in high school.

 "It means a lot that lacrosse has been added to the line-up, because we all really wanted it to happen," Brown said. "This means we will participate in more games. As a club, we only had a few scrimmages."

"It is very exciting now that we are an official sport," Green said. "We have all worked very hard to reach this step. Now that we are here, it feels very rewarding. Being on the lacrosse field is an unexplainable feeling. When we are out there it is like nothing else matters besides the game and our teammates."

Kaylyn Smith, the interim head coach of the women's lacrosse club, said its 18 players plan scrimmages this month against Clark University and Albertus Magnus College.

"Many of our players are first-time lacrosse players. We do have a group of girls who are experienced from the high school level. This club season is all about fundamental skill building as we elevate our presence in the MASCAC for 2014-15," Smith said.

Considered America's first sport, lacrosse often was played by Native Americans resolve conflicts. Modern lacrosse - a combination of basketball, soccer and hockey - has been embraced by athletes and enthusiasts in the United States and England for more than 100 years.

MCLA's women's lacrosse student-athletes will play the game on the College's turf fields during the spring, which also are used for soccer in the fall.

Bartini's coaching certification and education include U.S. Lacrosse Level Two Certification, which included positive coaching alliance training, and graduate courses in sport psychology at John F. Kennedy University. She expects to complete her U.S. Lacrosse Level Three Certification in January 2015.

MCLA offers the following NCAA Division III sports: soccer, tennis, volleyball, basketball, softball, cross-country and lacrosse for women; and soccer, golf, cross-country, basketball, tennis and baseball for men. 

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