UA LACROSSE is on the rise.

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS - MIKE CAP­SHAW

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.”

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