By Derek Brightwell
It is well known that U of L Athletic Director Tom Jurich has always done his best to give his programs the top facilities in the nation. But what you may not know is that he has given the lacrosse team something that only they can boast. Out of every university that has a women’s lacrosse program U of L is the only school that has a designated enclosed women’s lacrosse stadium.
The program, led by head coach Kellie Young, is winding down its seventh year as a program and in that small time frame has already risen to being a top 20 team. Young attributes some of that growth to their top-notch facilities.
“It’s allowed us to attract great recruits,” she said, noting the impact it had specifically on the first class. “It showed a real commitment from Tom to the success he wanted the program to have.”
But bringing in the recruits is only one part of building this program up. The facilities help the players to get better once they’re on campus.
“I definitely think the facility has helped us so much because we’re able to have the things we need when we want,” sophomore midfielder Courtnee Daley said. “The extra work is the biggest impact because that’s what makes teams better than other teams. We can shoot by ourselves, work on footwork and visualize the game on a field. It has a huge impact and the fact that we have that anytime is a huge bonus.”
The athletic aspects of the facilities are hard to deny and obvious to see; but perhaps the biggest benefit of them is in the academic side of the student-athlete’s lives. In addition to the locker rooms, training facilities and coaches offices, the impressive YUM! Center also includes a study hall and academic advising offices. These benefits may be overlooked by potential recruits on their first visit to campus but are never missed by parents.
“It impacts the parents more than the students, honestly,” Coach Young said of the recruiting power of academics. “The players are just amazed by the University of Louisville, but the parents see that they’ll be able to pursue any degree they want and we can work lacrosse around their lives so they don’t need to sacrifice their studies.”
“I get the classes I need and the tutors I want,” Daley explained. “ And I don’t have to worry about a schedule change because other teams need the facility. I know exactly when practice will be and I can schedule my academics around that.”
It doesn’t take long for the players to realize the benefits of having everything they need all within a short walk of each other.
“I usually study for an hour, go shoot for half an hour and the come back and study,” sophomore midfielder Kaylin Morissette mentions. “It’s nice to have that balance. You don’t have to go to six different places.”
The stadium represents Jurich’s commitment to not only lacrosse but also all of the athletic programs at U of L as he has built the school into one of the top athletic programs in the nation.
“The great thing about Tom is that he supports our programs and our student athletes,” Young said of her AD. “And he does it the best I’ve ever seen. Our players get the same treatment as football and basketball. We get the same medical treatment, the same academic support; we get the same access to facilities and equipment. We get the best of what we need to perform at our best.”
That support is not lost on the players, either.
“I could tell they are dedicated to making it one of the best programs in the nation,” Daley remembers from her recruitment period. “That was very impressive and helped me to come here.”
In a season that was loaded with road games, the team feels proud to have what they have back home.
“I feel like sometimes we forget how privileged we are,” Daley said. “Especially this season when we traveled so much and we were getting ready to practice and there’d be either football or soccer or field hockey. We can practice anytime we want and we don’t have to worry about other teams and not a lot of teams are able to do that.”
The sophomore midfielder Morissette sums up the facility and life in Louisville athletics pretty well.
“It’s great,” she said. “You can’t ask for anything better.”