February 24, 2014

Army Adds Women's Lacrosse to Start in 2015-16

from LaxMagazine.com staff reports

WEST POINT, N.Y. -- As part of an initiative to increase female enrollment, the U.S. Military Academy announced Monday it will add women's lacrosse to its NCAA Division I athletics lineup. Army will play its first season in 2015-16.

"We are thrilled to announce today the addition of women's lacrosse as a Division I sport. We believe the sport speaks directly to the warrior ethos that is one of the bedrocks upon which West Point is built," Boo Corrigan, Army's director of athletics, said in a statement. "We are fortunate to attract the best and brightest here at West Point and we could not be more excited to provide another avenue, through women's lacrosse, to fulfill our mission in developing leaders of character."

The academy's push for female enrollment coincides with a 2013 policy change across all branches of the U.S. military that lifted a ban on women in combat roles that previously stood since 1994.

Army graduated its first class to include women in 1980. The Class of 2017, the most recent accepted, is made up of approximately 16 percent women. West Point anticipates enrollment numbers to rise in future classes as the growing need for women officers increases in the U.S. Army.

"I'm proud to support the elevation of women's lacrosse to Division I status," USMA Superintendent Robert L. Caslen Jr. said. "It is a great addition to our robust varsity sports programs where the history of women's athletics at West Point has been one of excellence."

Corrigan, the athletic director, has significant ties to lacrosse. His brother, Kevin, is the men's lacrosse coach at Notre Dame. His father, Gene, is a National Lacrosse Hall of Famer.

Army, which currently fields a club program in the US Lacrosse WCLA, will join Navy, the only other service academy with varsity women's lacrosse, in the Patriot League. Navy started women's lacrosse in 2008 and made a big splash when it hired eight-time NCAA champion Cindy Timchal, the sport's all-time winningest coach, away from Maryland.

The Midshipmen (4-0) are currently ranked 19th nationally in NCAA Division I women's lacrosse, according Lacrosse Magazine's top 20.

"I'm hoping I'll be able to see the first Army-Navy game," North Carolina coach Jenny Levy said.

Levy was one of several NCAA Division I women's lacrosse coaches who sounded off on the announcement via Army's Knight Vision network.

"It is only fitting that our nation's first and oldest and maybe in some ways our most prestigious military academy is finally adding women's lacrosse," Duke coach Kerstin Kimel said. "Here's hoping that their [addition] is the start of another big boon for our sport."

"Great timing for Army to add another program to their athletics department," Virginia coach Julie Myers said. "Women's lacrosse is growing by leaps and bounds. More and more high school kids are looking for great programs to play for at great universities. Certainly Army is going to be both of those."

"It's great for our sport and the advancement of our sport," Northwestern coach Kelly Amonte Hiller said.

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