If you’ve passed by Negoesco Stadium recently, you may have noticed something you had probably never seen before at USF; lacrosse players practicing on the field. That’s because the university did not have any type of lacrosse organization on campus before October, when a group of students got together to form the USF Lacrosse Club.
Though they are officially a University of San Francisco organization, USF Lacrosse holds the “club sport” status, which means they do not get most of the benefits that athletes in sports such as basketball and soccer get.
“Club teams often operate separately from the athletic department, the big difference there is that they don’t receive any funding from the school.” said Dan Vilar, head coach of the Lacrosse Club. “With varsity sports you have recruits, you follow NCAA bylaws, you have scholarships, and a big budget. Club sports are organized, funded and administrated all by the students – they do the work, they hire all the coaches, they pay the coaches.”
Not only do students hire the coaches, they also pay for everything else needed to run a team.
“It’s an additional burden on top of tuition and everything else – it comes out of the players’ pockets,” Vilar said before mentioning that it gets easier the longer you have the program. “More established programs will have better fundraising efforts, more alumni who give back to the program.” Vilar gives the example of UC Berkeley’s lacrosse squad, who have been a club team for 50 years now and were able to raise around $50,000 to help with paying for a coach.
Vilar played lacrosse from fourth grade through college, but only got into coaching once his eligibility ended. After that, he coached at various different levels at a number of schools around the Bay Area. Vilar jokingly said that “bossing people around” was his favorite part of being a coach, before continuing in a more sincere tone.
“My favorite part of being a coach is bringing out the best in somebody, seeing that moment where it clicks for them and they go from being a beginner to intermediate, or a brand new player on the team to a starter on the team,” Vilar said. “I love to see people who have that enthusiasm, that gusto, and are receptive to coaching.”
For sophomore Suraj “Zed” Talluri, who plays goalie for the USF Lacrosse Club, the best part of lacrosse is the feeling that he gets in the heat of the moment.
“The adrenaline rush, I’d have to say, is my favorite part about it,” Talluri said. “Like when I see someone bolting towards the cage about to take a shot, the insane amount of adrenaline I get before that shot is just addicting.”
Like a number of others on the team, this is the first experience that Talluri has had playing lacrosse, but skills from other sports have eased his training a little bit.
“I played a lot of tennis beforehand so that really helped with my hand-eye coordination,” Talluri said.
Hand-eye coordination is especially important for Talluri in his role as the team’s goalie. He said that while the position is pretty much what it sounds like, there are leadership aspects involved as well.
“It’s been described to me as the defensive quarterback in a way, because you need to command the defense, let them know what position they need to be in, and tell them who to approach and how to block,” Talluri said.
The team finished up its season on Sunday with a 15-3 win over Cabrillo College, but the players will be back in the fall to strengthen their skills and return to play. Moving forward, Vilar would like to see the team accepted into the Western Collegiate Lacrosse League (WCLL), but said that it will be hard if students with prior experience don’t show up to play.
“I know there are guys here who aren’t on the team but have played lacrosse before, and I hope that I can get them to come out and join,” Villar said.