Momentum is a good thing in sports, and that’s something the college club teams that comprise USA Lacrosse’s WCLA (Women’s Collegiate Lacrosse Associates) ranks are counting on in 2023.
After having both the 2020 and 2021 seasons wiped out due to the global pandemic, the WCLA finally returned to the field in 2022 with a full season and a successful national championship tournament in Round Rock, Texas. Boston College and Loyola (Md.) emerged as the D1 & D2 champions, respectively.
This week, the 2023 season begins with 50 WCLA teams converging along the Pacific Coast for the annual Santa Barbara Shootout, with players naturally enthused about starting another season.
“We’re definitely carrying a strong feeling of excitement into this new season,” said Sarah Minton, senior midfielder and club president at Arizona State. “We had such a wonderful 2022 season, with on-field success and a close group with great chemistry, and we want our new players to enjoy a similar experience this year.”
The Sun Devils finished 14-1 last year, winning their first Western Women's Lacrosse League title and earning just their second-ever berth in the national championship tournament. Minton notes that they are eager for another successful run.
“We’re very excited to get back on the field and start the year against great competition in Santa Barbara,” she said. “We’ll get to see if all the practice time that we have put in is going to pay off.”
Games begin Friday in Santa Barbara and continue through Sunday.
Off the field, the WCLA is introducing two new components that are designed to facilitate better overall communication and also provide greater athlete support.
The WCLA Athletes Council is a new forum to supplement the existing Leadership Committee, intended to provide more direct input from the athletes to the organizational leaders.
“While we have always been receptive to ideas and concerns from all our members, communication flowed through league leadership structures and were seldom, if ever, communicated to national leadership,” said Liz Holmes, WCLA president. “A more direct line of communication streamlines the process and enables the WCLA to be responsive in a timely manner. This organization exists for the athletes, and this new Athletes Council is a reflection of that.”
The WCLA is also adding a new athlete development resource to provide mentoring, information, and experience in many aspects of an athlete’s college and post-collegiate career.
“As our athletes prepare to enter the workforce with degrees in hand, we think that webinars on financial advice, investing, mental health, wellness, career development, and mentoring in the many professions in which our former players are now employed will be valuable,” Holmes said.
Interfacing with members of USA Lacrosse’s professional staff is one of the outlined strategies.
“We want to give our undergraduates insight into negotiations that USA Lacrosse and WCLA engage in for sponsorships, event venues, and so forth. Opportunities to learn about these things from USA Lacrosse’s experienced staff members will be beneficial,” Holmes said.
The 2023 WCLA season will conclude with the D1 and D2 national championships in Virginia Beach, May 9-12.
About the WCLA
The mission of the USA Lacrosse Women's Collegiate Lacrosse Associates (WCLA) is to promote the growth of women's lacrosse nationwide. Specifically, the WCLA strives to provide an infrastructure in which collegiate clubs will compete and eventually crown a national champion. The large majority of WCLA teams are student-run, and in addition to gaining valuable experience in administration, the WCLA players have a history of giving back to the sport by becoming coaches and/or officials.