St. Ambrose is the latest Quad-Cities college to adopt the sport of lacrosse.
The school announced Monday that it will begin fielding a men’s team in the spring of 2014, following a path previously taken by Augustana. Augie began fielding both men’s and women’s lacrosse teams last spring, and Palmer College of Chiropractic also has a club-level men’s team.
“We decided to do this several years ago, then put it on hold for awhile,” St. Ambrose athletic director Ray Shovlain said. “We just decided the time was right to do it now.”
The Fighting Bees likely will play their home games at Davenport Park Board facilities, possibly at the Davenport Soccer Complex on north Division Street.
They will apply for admittance as a Division-II school in the Great Rivers Lacrosse Conference, a 22-team league that spans 10 states. The conference’s Division-II members include schools as high profile as DePaul and Creighton and as obscure as Missouri S&T. Palmer also is a member.
Shovlain said the primary motivation for adding a lacrosse program is to attract student-athletes “from outside our normal recruiting areas.
“St. Louis is really the big one, to be honest with you,” he said. “There is a ton of lacrosse played in the Catholic high schools in the St. Louis area and in some of the public schools, too, for that matter. They have a real sophisticated program down there.”
He pointed out that SAU has had great success in branching out into new sports in the past decade or so. It has added competitive dance, men’s and women’s bowling and men’s volleyball teams in recent years, and all have done well. The dance team won a national championship last winter and the men’s volleyball team narrowly missed winning a national title after being ranked No. 1 much of the season.
“We’ve done extremely well with these things,” Shovlain said. “All of them are activities where kids participate through high school and at lower levels, then have very few opportunities to compete beyond high school.
“With lacrosse, we’ll follow the same approach we took with those sports.”
Shovlain added that he hopes to have a coach hired by the end of the fall semester with recruiting starting in the spring.