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April 3, 2014 | 12:00 a.m. CST
Building the reputation of women’s lacrosse in the Midwest is a bit of an uphill battle. Besides being widely perceived as a coastal sport — the majority of Division 1 teams are situated along the Atlantic — there’s the notion that lacrosse is strictly a male sport.
Olivia Schulte wants to prove that neither are true.
Schulte has been with the team for three years now. As president, she leads practices and fundraising efforts, coordinates with team members and manages the team’s budget with the MU Recreation Complex. Schulte has the responsibility of representing a sport that sees less-than-ideal visibility in this part of the country.
Now, in the midst of a new season that has already seen some unexpected changes and challenges, Schulte stays unyieldingly optimistic about the MU Women’s Lacrosse team’s prospects as she takes the helm of leadership.
What does being the president of the women’s lacrosse team entail?
Basically, I have to go to monthly meetings at the Rec. They just give us updates on the club. We say how much money the Rec gives us, what we’re going to do with that money as far as tournaments go. This year, we got new uniforms so we budgeted that out. And then also going to practice, making sure people come and leading practice.
What’s new with the team this year?
This year we got a lot of freshman players. A lot of our junior players, who are seniors this year, decided not to play this year because of their workload. So the majority of the team, probably about 15 people, are freshmen. But we’re really good. Usually our games against KU are really close, but this year we beat them 17-4. That’s a huge improvement.
What does having more freshmen than usual mean for the team?
It definitely means that they’ll hopefully be playing for at least the next two years. They’ll have a strong bond if they can keep building on that each year. This year, everyone’s new, so I thought it was going to be hard to get the team together and keep them bonded, but everyone’s melded pretty well together. So next year, they can build upon that even more and hopefully by their junior year, then they’ll be like an an unstoppable force.
Did most of the freshmen who joined this year play lacrosse in high school?
Most people who try out and make the team have played before. We did have a couple people try out who never played before, but they didn’t make the team. We try to give the opportunity to everyone, but it is a hard sport to pick up. It is hard to learn how to cradle and stuff. But, yeah, all the people on the team have played at least two to three years.
Can you explain what cradling is?
You’re basically moving your hand back and forth, instead of just running down the field with the ball in your net; it’ll fall out because girls don’t have deep pockets in their nets like guys do. You cradle it back and forth to keep the ball in and keep people from being able to check you and also for the ball not to fall out.
How do you plan on leading the team this year?
I really try to make it important to come to practice, to get to know everyone who’s on the team, to have fun. That’s definitely our main goal. If we don’t win, that’s okay because if you have fun and you’re playing a sport you love, then it shouldn’t matter.
What are the top three team goals you’re hoping to achieve this year?
We want to win a championship game. The three years I’ve been on the team, we haven’t won it. I’m really hoping this year we will because we’re hosting it here at Mizzou. I want to keep (getting people) to practice and keep raising money for our team. When we have seven people coming to practice when it’s a 12-person team, it’s hard to get stuff done. We had a play day about a month ago in Kansas City. That’s really a big goal of our team is to keep getting high school or middle school girls and boys into the sport, so it becomes bigger in Missouri and the Midwest.
What’s a year of lacrosse like?
We start in the fall. We have about 30 girls come out, and we try to take as many as possible. This year we took around 27. After that, we start practicing twice a week. We’ll always have a fall play day, and those don’t count toward our season. They are to keep everyone up on their skills. Also, it’s a fun way to go play at the other schools and see what they look like. Once we get to the spring, we start practicing four times a week. Tournaments can start as early as February. We have a tournament once or twice a month in the spring.