UA LACROSSE is on the rise.
FAYETTEVILLE — Successful recruiting efforts helped the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, men’s lacrosse program make its first postseason appearance this past season.
Because Arkansas is a club team with no scholarships to offer, recruiting is not exactly the same as the school’s NCAA- affiliated athletic programs. In fact, players actually have to pay to play with annual dues of $1,500, so attracting top players to the program hasn’t been so simple.
“We made a concerted effort over the past few years of going after the talent we have on campus,” said team Director Glenn Kelley. “We went after them hard, but for whatever reason, they hadn’t come out because of their time commitment with fraternities or because they were simply burned out from playing on competitive high school programs.”
The UA program turned its attention to incoming students and has shown promise in recruiting Texas, specifically from top prep lacrosse programs around the Dallas and Houston areas. Other players found the program themselves, with parents reaching out to Kelley and others via social media.
“We’ve even got a high school All-American on our team now,” Kelley said. “One of them ended up being a long nurturing process to get him on the team. We visit with parents and potential players during orientation and during visits to campus, so it’s almost like the varsity programs in that sense.”
About four years ago, Kelley was approached by former players he had coached on the NWA Bulls high school lacrosse team who were now playing the university and asked if he would coach them again. Kelley said there were about 18-20 players who would make road trips with the Razorbacks team at that time.
“The quality player we’re recruiting now is substantially better than what we had,” Kelley said. “We had a bunch of good kids, and several good players, but the numbers were not where we needed to be with the players we had, so we got the numbers up and have been attracting better quality players from top to bottom.”
The team is a member of the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association (MCLA) and just completed its second season competing as a Division I team in the Great Rivers Lacrosse Conference’s Western Division, which includes teams from Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Kansas State and Nebraska.
Practices are at the university’s club sports fields off of Razorback Road, which is currently adding an artificial Field Turf playing surface.
“When it rained, it was disruptive because you can’t do anything in a swamp,” Kelley said. “Probably half of the teams in our conference have Field Turf, so we’re really excited about getting it because this will help elevate our program even more.”