By Matthew Pagels | firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo by Landon Clair
After years of students patiently waiting for Flagler to create a lacrosse team, the time has come. Flagler now offers an intercollegiate club team. They currently have a three-year plan to join the Men’s College Lacrosse Association.
Flagler College student Landon Clair, 20, was the first to show initiative in getting a lacrosse team together. He is now one of the captains of the club.
“The whole point of starting this club was so that we could just play lacrosse at Flagler and have some fun,” Clair said. “We all love playing, and we’re ultimately looking to start something that will last with the college.”
In March of 2012, Clair contacted Dr. Wayne Riggs, an assistant history professor and program coordinator at Flagler College, and asked him to become the adviser of the team. Once in an agreement, Clair started spreading the word. He rounded up nine students who were committed to play. They have expanded in numbers and as a team ever since.
“The existence of the club wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for Dr. Riggs,” Clair said. “He really stepped up and took care of all the obstacles that hindered the previous attempts, such as paper work and official school details.”
Dr. Riggs believes that leadership is the key in maintaining a successful team.
“Establishing consistent leadership for the team and pushing the captains and players to continue our efforts is perhaps the most important aspect of my role,” Dr. Riggs said. “There have been several attempts to start a lacrosse club/team at Flagler, and the biggest reason they failed was a lack consistent leadership.”
There are a few challenges the team faces including setting up schedules, finding a place to play and recruiting players. Also, they are self-funded, meaning money comes out of their own pocket.
Dr. Riggs says his goal is to see the team grow to 25 players, as well as establish a regular spring schedule against other college club teams. The team also wants to become a part of the SouthEastern Lacrosse Conference, affiliated with the MCLA.
“Part of this will involve finding supporters and sponsors from alumni, the campus and community groups and businesses,” Dr. Riggs said.
Jud Damon, Flagler College Athletics Director, says the Flagler College Department of Athletics is not in a position to add new programs, so the lacrosse team will remain as a student club rather than becoming an NCAA sport within the Athletics Department.
“We are currently focused on funding our existing programs, particularly in regard to scholarships, well enough for them to at least compete consistently for conference championships,” Damon said. “Until our existing programs have reached that point, it will be extremely difficult to justify the addition of new programs with all of their associated costs.”
“Personally, I am a huge lacrosse fan,” Damon said. “I am very supportive of the sport and the Flagler College students who are committed to it.”
Many institutions do not have NCAA lacrosse teams, so club teams are affiliated with the MCLA. The MCLA is similar to the NCAA, but it is specifically made for lacrosse.
Dr. Riggs is not only the team’s advisor, but he acts as their coach as well. From attending practices and games to scheduling and setting a budget, Dr. Riggs has set the bar high for this lacrosse team.
“The team is playing several fall-ball games in October and November that will give them some experience on the field,” Dr. Riggs said. “We have home and away games planned for the spring semester.”
In order to look official, the team has ordered uniforms. Dr. Riggs says they chose to do business with JaxLax, a local business located between Jacksonville and St. Augustine.
“The owners, Rob and Denise Carson, are incredibly supportive of lacrosse teams in northeast Florida, and were instrumental in helping us find uniforms and equipment that are high quality but cost effective,” Dr. Riggs said. The uniforms will bear Flagler College colors and logos.
Those who are interested in playing must attend 75 percent of practices, as well as pay club dues that go towards uniforms, equipment and transportation for away games. The team is currently holding practice Sundays and Wednesdays at Joseph Pomar Park and Vickers Field.