Q: Is Lacrosse a varsity sport at Iowa?
No. Every year the team is increasingly run like a varsity sport, however, we receive very little financial support from the University. Similar situations are found at all college programs around the country. As lacrosse continues to grow on a national level, the support base for all teams including Iowa becomes stronger. Varsity lacrosse could eventually be a reality at Iowa, but not anytime soon.
Q: So why would anyone want to play lacrosse at Iowa?
There are many good reasons to play at Iowa. First, this is a great place to get a college education. Iowa consistently ranks among the best for a combination of academics and student life. Iowa City is full of life year long and provides an excellent place for college students to work hard while enjoying the time they spend in Iowa City. The campus is beautiful and split down the middle by the Iowa River. It is also home to the best wrestling program in the country and a historically famous college football team. Tailgaiting is something every college kid should experience.
Second, Iowa Lacrosse provides a very competitive lacrosse experience, on a national scale, without the overwhelming pressure and time-commitment of big-time Division I varsity lacrosse. Our student-athletes are expected to dedicate themselves to the team, but they are given the time and latitude to focus on academics. Some turned down college varsity opportunities to come to school and play here for just that reason. The atmosphere on this team is much like a top Division III program, with a healthy combination of athletics, academics and social life.
Third, this is an exciting time to be part of lacrosse at Iowa. Over the last few years under the direction of head coach Zach Katz, help from professional lacrosse player Matt Striebel and hard work from the teams captains, the team has rebuilt from a troubled period and now threatens to break into the nationally elite of the MCLA. In 2008, Iowa tied for the division title in the GRLC I-AA and continues to shock the MCLA.
Q: How does playing in the MCLA at Iowa differ from playing NCAA lacrosse at other schools?
Our philosophy here at Iowa is that we want to do whatever it takes to compete at the highest level possible and represent the University in the best possible way. As such, we look and act like a varsity program at practice and during games and we require our student-athletes to work hard to achieve team and individual goals. In addition, every one of our players must follow MCLA rules and regulations regarding academic eligibility.
However, as a club team, we do not receive much financial support from the University. We have to do extensive fundraising to ensure that we can run the kind of program we do. While we are fortunate to be able to use the Bubble (Hawkeye Indoor Practice Facility) for practice and games, we have to make do with evening practice times.
As a club team with no scholarships to offer and a firm commitment to academic excellence, we don’t expect our players to make the same kind of time commitment as Division I varsity players do. The time commitment to practice and competition is virtually identical to what any varsity player has to do at the Division III level.
At the same time our team is very much about having fun while playing lacrosse. We expect our team to grow friendships just as it has in the past.
Q: Who does the team play?
Iowa Lacrosse is a member of the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association (MCLA), the largest lacrosse league in the world. The MCLA is made up of 200 teams in 9 conferences that represent virtually every region of the country. Iowa is a member of the Great Rivers Lacrosse Conference consisting of mainly midwestern teams with similar attitudes. We look to shock teams like nationally ranked Uiversity of Illinois and Lindenwood.
Iowa’s regular season schedule usually includes many of the MCLA programs from around the country. Teams like Missouri, Missouri State, Ole Miss, Illinois, and of course Lindewood, are regularly on the schedule.
In the fall, the team plays several scrimmages in Iowa and travels to annual tournaments. In the Spring of 2009, we plan on traveling to Chicago to play Depaul and Dayton.
Q: Is there a post-season tournament?
The GRLC tournament is in late April. The winner of the tournament, along with the champions of the 8 other conferences, gets an automatic bid to the MCLA national championship tournament in mid-May. Seven other at-large bids go to the highest ranked teams, that did not receive automatic bids, in the final regular-season poll.
Q: What is a typical schedule for a Iowa Lacrosse Student-Athlete?
Playing lacrosse at Iowa is a major, year-round commitment. There is fall and spring practice along with off-season commitments such as conditioning and fundraising. Players report for Fall practice within the first three weeks of school and practice 3 evenings per week until mid-November. There are also other events such as team functions and fundraisers that everyone must attend. Add to that, 1 game per weekend and a tournament trip. We of course try to accomodate to the footbal schedule as much as possible. In the spring, practice is 4 evenings per week plus games almost every weekend. Team travel has taken us to Arkansas, Missouri, Memphis, Chicago, and Wiscoson in the past.
Q: What is the practice schedule and how should I setup classes / work to accommodate lacrosse?
Time management skills are essential to your success at Iowa if you plan to play lacrosse.
At Iowa, lacrosse practice is always in the evening with a few weekend day practices when we don’t have a game. A safe way to schedule classes is ending your academic schedule by 5:30 PM daily. Ending classes as early as possible on Friday also helps accommodate team travel that usually begins Friday mornings. Most games will be on weekends during the day with some evening and weekday evening dates. For weekend day games, plan on not being available for work or class until 5 PM. With a 12 credit academic schedule and 15 hours per week of lacrosse, it will be very difficult to maintain a job during the season. If you must work for financial reasons, plan on being available to work 1 or 2 weekend nights with time off for night games or travel.
Q: What are games and travel like?
Iowa plays all of its home games at the recreational field where the team enjoys a unique home field advantage. On the road the team travels either in rental vans, or charter buses. We want to provide a safe, efficient travel atmosphere that minimizes missed class time and allows our student-athletes to focus on their studies and the game at hand. The team always presents itself on the road in a manner befitting University of Iowa. Iowa’s alumni and parent network often shows up on the road to support the team in distant cities, sometimes even providing local meals and events.
Road games vary according to who we are playing. The team travels to play it’s required conference schedule.
Q: How do I join the team?
We use the fall season as a tryout period and will cut the roster, carrying 30-40 players or less if necessary. We are looking for athletes that arrive in shape with solid lacrosse skills, the potential to contribute to the team for 4 years, and a winning attitude – accepting nothing less then excellence, never mediocrity. You can tryout for the team after your freshman year, but it’s more difficult. With the team becoming increasingly competitive we are looking for players who will make a four year commitment. As a transfer or upperclassman looking to make the team, you would have to show tremendous potential to contribute. Many athletes do not arrive at the skill level to see a lot of playing time in college lacrosse. However, the guys that work hard, steadily improve and develop into great players by the time they become upperclassmen.
Prior to practicing, you will need to complete some paperwork (available at orientation meetings and from team personnel) and join US Lacrosse if you are not already a member.
You will need to provide all of your own equipment for the fall season. You will eventually receive a team issue helmet and gloves, but it could take several weeks beyond the start of practice to have enough equipment for everyone.
Q: How much will it cost to play?
This is something that Iowa prides itself on. We aim to provide a fun, competitive lacrosse envorinment at a minimum cost. The coming year you can expect fall dues to be in the neighborhood of $250 while the spring dues will be much more like $400. This may seem expensive to you now but in comparison our dues are much less than any other lacrosse team. These fees cover jerseys, transportation, coaches fees, necessary equipment, tournament and ref fees and anything else that may come up.