When you want something, you go and get it, and that’s what the Utah Tech University Lacrosse Program has done.
For over a decade, students at the university have been aiming to increase the popularity of lacrosse in an educational setting. What started as just a club has resulted in victory for Utah Tech athletes.
This 2022-2023 academic school year marks the first year the lacrosse program will be participating in the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse Conference Division II Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association.
Club Treasurer DJ Burton, a senior finance major from San Antonio, Texas, said: “We are the fastest growing MCLA program in the country. Other programs in the MCLA have a hard time recruiting guys in the first place, but we’re at the point where we are having to cut guys based on the talent level that we have.”
Tryouts for the team began in September and allowed anyone interested in the sport to attend. Following tryouts, the coaches and captains met to discuss roster cuts which brought the 48 athletes who participated down to 38.
“Utah is still a developing area for lacrosse, so we were really blessed to be able to pick up a lot of guys who were hungry and driven to succeed and play,” Burton said.
The opportunity to grow their lacrosse careers, the desire of being in a competitive team atmosphere, and a simple love of the game sparked high participation from students.
Club President Josh Gilbert, a freshman computer science major from Holladay, said, “You look at a lot of Division I programs that are getting paid to play where our club sport, we’re paying to play, and it’s truly because we love lacrosse and can’t give it up.”
As for the members of the team, creating tight-knit relationships with each other has proven to be a priority as the season comes around the corner.
“The team already has insane chemistry and a really solid support system,” Burton said. “We have really supportive coaches too, who genuinely care.”
Head Coach Hunter Henrick, a lacrosse mentor with over ten years of coaching experience, said this year is all about creating a competitive team, recruiting members and developing a team identity.
“The university has shown its ambition athletically, and over the long term, we want to put ourselves and lacrosse overall in a good light so that we may be under consideration when, and if, the university wants to add another men’s DI sport,” Henrick said.
Other program goals for the following years include winning a national championship, growing the program and most importantly, becoming a DI program.
Gilbert said the steps for getting to the next level include giving 100% effort every day, gaining more recruits and receiving enough funding to continue as an MCLA program.
Now in their inaugural season, athletes in the program practice every morning from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. incorporating weights, study hall, team bonding and more to prepare for its upcoming spring season.
The Utah Tech Lacrosse team will go on to scrimmage at Utah State University Oct. 8 to show all that they have accomplished.