With about one month left until their first game, the varsity women’s lacrosse team is gearing up for their inaugural season. The team is the first team to move from club to varsity in over a decade at Whitman.
Previously a successful team at the club level, returners as well as new adds are looking forward to getting their first varsity competition under their belts. And their new coach, Kate Robinson, is eager to begin as well.
With some added interest last year on the club team, the excitement has been building for the official start of practices and games at the varsity level.
“I am really excited for the upcoming season and looking forward to challenging our team in many different ways by playing at the varsity level” said junior Bea Sheffer.
Since lacrosse is new to the Northwest Conference, they will only play eight games this season, starting with back-to-back games on March 15 and 16 against Linfield College and George Fox University at 12 p.m. and 1 p.m.
Part of the excitement of becoming a new varsity team here at Whitman has come from getting a new coach. Prior to this season, the team didn’t have a coach and was instead led by veteran players. Coach Robinson graduated from The Catholic University of America where she was a three-time All-American in lacrosse. She also shined on the basketball court. After her career she continued to coach for her alma mater and then continued as a top assistant at the Stevens Institute of Technology.
“There aren’t many people like Kate out there who are willing to move across the country and take on creating a new team,” said sophomore returner Anna Melville. “She’s coming from a program that was quite strong, and I think that having her to guide us through this first year is going to be really important.”
Though Robinson wants to be able to compete this season, she also recognizes that this hybrid year requires much smaller and more reachable goals.
“[We’re] just going to have fun and grow: grow everyday, grow every practice and game,” she said.
Similar to that of her coach, Sheffer’s goal for her team is to simply enjoy the process.
“Playing a team sport is all about the process. Each practice, each workout and each point in every game we play will contribute to building our team and focusing on the process” said Sheffer.
The transition for the team has gone easier then expected for Robinson, who is starting her players off slow with some conditioning and basics before they get on the field and prepare for their first games.
The slow transition has been key for the players, many of whom were intimidated by the move to varsity.
“I think the way it was so quickly thrown onto the team scared a lot of the girls who loved the game and loved the team but didn’t like the idea of the level of commitment becoming varsity meant,” said Melville.
But with the turn out for this new team, the team’s big changes have made it all worth the while. There is quite a bit of youth on the team, but that inexperience is countered with a heightened level of athleticism compared to previous years.
“The number of first years who came out and joined the team was phenomenal, and they are all really great athletes, so that assuaged my fears. Combining these new girls with the solid base left from the club team has given us a much stronger team than I was originally expecting,” said Melville.
Making history here at Whitman is an accomplishment in and of itself, which is what the women are looking forward to the most in their inaugural season. It will be a short season, but will certainly make an impact on the history of Whitman College Athletics.