Sarah Hassell came to the University of Southern Mississippi four years ago from Boise, Idaho. She brought four lacrosse sticks from her high school and a love for the sport.
“I fell in love [with] the sport and the game of lacrosse, so I brought it here,” Hassell, a senior exercise science major, said. “So I started the club.”
In her freshman year, Hassell started the Women’s Lacrosse Club. Three years later and the club has gained league status after joining the Southeast Women’s Lacrosse League. The league consists of 13 schools, including The University of Mississippi and Auburn University, and 11 associate members.
Before joining SWLL, the Lacrosse Club had to prove that it was financially stable, discuss their win-loss records and that they will have enough players to where they wouldn’t forfeit games. Hassell said the biggest obstacle was dealing with finances.
“So we are not funded by the school, which is hard,” Hassell said. “Every single team, when we went to this meeting, was funded. Except for us. I guess you can say it was kind of embarrassing that we didn’t have the support.”
The lacrosse club has 18 members and is completely self-funded through profit shares and fundraisers. The club also makes money by selling USM lacrosse apparel and paying member dues. To maintain league status the club has to pay $2500 in dues on top of other fees and travel.
“Clubs do get some funding from [the Student Government Association], and we support them as well as Recreational Sports,” said Mark Crager, advisor for the lacrosse club and director of Rec-Sports. “But it’s all very minor funding for all clubs. For true athletic style funding, that’ll never happen at a university like this one.”
Hassell is still looking to get university funding, and plans on making presentations throughout this year to plead her team’s case. “Even just a little help would be awesome,” Hassell said.
Before joining SWLL, the lacrosse club had to schedule their own games. They’ve played against the University of Mississippi, Tulane University, Louisiana State University and other teams with more established programs.
“We beat Tulane and they’ve been a program for a couple years,” Hassell said. “They actually had a coach and everything, and we didn’t have a coach at a time. We were going up against the actual program, and we beat them.”
In lacrosse there has to be 12 players from each team on the field at all times. Hassell hopes to expand her team from 18 to 25 players before the beginning of the season. Hassell said once player rosters are created they can’t be changed.
The requirement to join the Women’s Lacrosse Club is to have experience with high school athletics. “We accept everyone, we teach them how to play and the fundamentals,” Hassell said.