The ACU lacrosse team will compete in an organized league for the first time in the program’s history.
Starting Saturday, the ‘Cats will be official participants in the Lone Star Alliance, a lacrosse league including teams from across Texas and the South.
“This is going to be a big weekend for us and hopefully kick off a big season,” said Nathan Barrientez, club president.
The ‘Cats will compete against notable schools such as Oklahoma State and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi as members of the alliance. The lacrosse team spent the previous two seasons as an independent team playing games against whomever they could. However, after proving themselves last year, the team received an invitation to an actual league.
ACU will open against Tulsa and Tarleton State in Stephenville this weekend. It will be the Wildcats’ third season in program history and their most difficult schedule yet.
The ‘Cats will also have home games on their schedule, another first for the program. Barrientez, junior kinesiology major from Victoria, is in talks with local schools about the best location for those games.
“Last year, we really just went out there with a chip on our shoulders,” said Austin Mason, a founding club member. “We beat nearly every team we played, and they were teams that were already in the Lone Star Alliance.”
The road to league acceptance has not been an easy one for the lacrosse team. As a club team and not a sponsored ACU athletics team, Barrientez and his teammates have had an uphill battle to acquire the funds and recognition necessary to compete at a high level. They are forced to rely heavily on Students’ Association funds to cover fees but never received enough to cover all costs.
This year, the lacrosse team requested $8,000 from SA but were granted $2,000, which didn’t cover the leagues fees, officers said.
“It’s hard to get noticed even on our own campus when the financial support isn’t there,” said Mason, junior environmental science major from Mount Zion, Illinois.
Barrientez looked to other sources to obtain funds and succeeded. The team now has a few outside sponsors including former Dallas Cowboys receiver Roy Williams.
All of this – the acceptance into the alliance, the sponsorships and the past on-field successes – has culminated into excitement for the upcoming season, but it is an excitement that is relatively unnoticed by the student body.
Not only does the team get little attention, but Mason believes there are quality lacrosse players on campus that are not aware ACU even has a team. But he intends to be one that gets their attention this season.
“Right now, we are just a club team,” Mason said. “But who knows, maybe one day we will be ACU sponsored. Look at women’s soccer; they used to be a club team, and now they’re getting a brand new stadium.”