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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Lady Laxcats seek D-I status

    Freshman Thea Rodenburg shoots past UC San Diegos Midori Wong in the first half of the Arizona womens lacrosse teams home-opening win Feb. 12.
    Freshman Thea Rodenburg shoots past UC San Diego’s Midori Wong in the first half of the Arizona women’s lacrosse team’s home-opening win Feb. 12.

    This is pressure time for the Arizona women’s club lacrosse team.

    For 16 years, members have been relegated to the background, playing their hearts out for a handful of friends and family in the bleachers.

    Now is their chance to get the recognition they desire by earning Division I status.

    “”We’re trying to put pressure (on the university) – we’re getting tons of petitions, we’re getting tons of signatures from people,”” said Arizona women’s club lacrosse head coach Liz Palmer.

    “”Our plans for the future are for adding more women’s teams,”” said Arizona senior associate athletic director Kathleen “”Rocky”” LaRose.

    In 1972, Title IX, which would arguably become one of the most important pieces of legislation in the future of college athletics, was passed into law. Patsy T. Mink, a Hawaiian Democrat, authored the bill, which promised to help end discrimination against women in education.

    But as the law is applied to sports, interpretation is everything.

    “”We don’t have any formal procedures for adding a varsity team,”” LaRose said. “”Here at the U of A we’ve added sports based on everything from looking at the grass-roots movements to what’s happening regionally and in the conference.””

    As it stands, there are several main components in determining Title IX compliance.

    There must be equivalent financial aid for the men’s and women’s teams, and they must have equal “”support,”” such as facilities, equipment and other parameters.

    Title IX also requires either a number of men or women athletes equal to their percentage in the undergraduate population, evidence of a continually expanding athletic division or proof that all interest for a new team is met.

    The third area is what women’s lacrosse is trying to key in on.

    Out of the “”53 percent women’s population (of current Arizona undergrads), 43 percent of (athletes) are women,”” said sophomore attackman Stephanie Brown, who heads up the women’s club lacrosse team’s efforts to achieve varsity status.

    The hope is that this information will spark new interest in the student body in adding women’s lacrosse as a varsity team.

    “”We’re going through a couple of different (organizations) like Women’s Sports Foundation and the Office of Civil Rights,”” Palmer said.

    However, the women Laxcats are especially at a disadvantage, as only five of the 60 total Division I programs are anywhere near Arizona.

    “”There is not even a Regional Advisory Committee from the West for lacrosse NCAA Championships,”” said Arizona media relations director Tom Duddleston.

    So where does this web of red tape leave the players?

    “”They pay $600 a year to play right now, out of pocket,”” Palmer said. “”(Division I status) would bring better athletes, scholarships, better coaching. We would be playing better teams, we’d be able to travel to the East Coast, and our team would be so much better.””

    The team’s struggles were summed up the weekend of Feb. 11. After leading by six in the second half, the women Laxcats (3-3, 2-2 Western Women’s Lacrosse League South) were in danger, up by only a point with 30 seconds left against California-San Diego and without the ball.

    All the effort that the team had put into the game thus far was close to becoming officially meaningless – much like being relegated to club status while having what coach Palmer and the players believe is Division I talent and desire.

    “”I don’t think people realize how often we practice, and how much time and energy we put into this team,”” Brown said.

    But instead of folding, as they did in all 11 games last season, the Wildcats made a firm defensive stand and deflected a well-aimed shot that would have tied the game. The ensuing 12-11 victory, which capped off a weekend that included a 15-13 win against San Diego and a 14-9 loss dealt by San Diego State, was indicative of the positive emerging attitude of the team this year.

    “”They were pretty intense games,”” Brown said. “”Definitely a lot of fun.””

    But the point is that the team didn’t give up, despite the pressure, and Palmer said she is pleased at what she’s seen so far.

    “”Honestly, we aren’t expected to do well at all,”” Palmer said. “”We only have two seniors and two juniors on the team. The rest are all freshmen or sophomores.””

    Right now, that doesn’t seem to matter. While the women continue their battle to become a varsity squad, a fight that means “”more opportunities,”” as Palmer puts it, one would be hard-pressed to think that Mink had anything else in mind when she authored Title IX.

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