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November 17, 2009

2011-12 Season - Augustana adds lacrosse as 11th women's sport

Augustana College will add women's lacrosse to the Vikings' varsity roster. Play will begin in 2010-11 school year.

Lacrosse will become the 11th women's varsity sport, joining volleyball, soccer, cross country, tennis, golf, basketball, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field, softball and swimming.

Eleven varsity men's sports are offered: football, cross country, soccer, basketball, wrestling, swimming, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field, golf, tennis and baseball.

The addition of the women's lacrosse demonstrates the college's commitment to offering equal athletic opportunities for men and women and meeting the competitive interests of current and future students through a variety of extra-curricular activities.

"Following extensive consideration, the addition of women's lacrosse was clearly the best fit at Augustana for a variety of demographic reasons," says Athletic Director Mike Zapolski. "The increasing popularity of the sport and its recent growth in the Midwest were important factors in the final decision."

The Illinois High School Association Board of Directors recently added a lacrosse season for the 2010 school year, and according to U.S. Lacrosse, the governing body of men's and women's lacrosse, the sport is one of the fastest growing team sports nationwide and in the National Collegiate Athletic Association level.

"Athletics has played a key role in the college experience of Augustana's students for generations," says Augustana President Steven Bahls. "This reflects our commitment to provide our students with an education that speaks to mind, spirit and body in preparing them for lives of leadership and service. Lessons learned on the field of competition serve our alumni in all aspects of their lives after Augustana, and by offering women's lacrosse it's my hope that more students will be able to benefit from these transformative experiences."

Augustana has had a women's lacrosse club since 2003. The newly formed varsity lacrosse team will begin practicing in the fall of 2010 to prepare for competition in the spring of 2011 and brings the total number of athletic teams for both men and women to 22. The last sport Augustana added was women's golf in the fall of 1996.

Augustana has long been a leader in both the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin and NCAA Division III in terms of combining athletic prowess and academic excellence. The Vikings have won more CCIW team titles 173 (135 men and 38 women) than any other school and Augustana currently ranks sixth in the nation (all divisions) in number of Academic All-Americans produced with 130.

Lacrosse has been called the oldest sport in North America and was played by Native Americans. A French missionary first observed the game in Canada in 1636. Some historians say the name "la crosse" was given to the game because the sticks used in play resemble the staff carried by a bishop; others say the name comes from a French field hockey game called le jeu de la crosse.

For more information, contact Dave Wrath, associate director of Athletics, davewrath@augustana.edu, or (309) 794-7265.