History in the making: the "fastest sport on two feet" comes to Centre next fall
RELEASED: December 10, 2009
By Leigh Ivey
DANVILLE, KY—Next fall, Centre College's roster of intercollegiate sports will have an exciting addition. Lacrosse is coming to Centre, and the campus community is abuzz with anticipation.
"You hear it said that lacrosse is the fastest sport on two feet," says Bert Severns, men's head coach. "The fun part about the game is that it's fast and furious, and I think everyone on campus is anxious to see a game. Everyone wants to know what it's all about, so it's going to be very exciting to introduce it."
Severns and head women's coach Julie Beer have devoted much time to recruiting this fall, and both have found it to be easier than they had imagined.
"Recruiting is going awesomely," Beer says. "The College sells itself. All I have to do is get students to come to campus, and they're sold."
Focusing primarily on Kentucky and other states in the South, the coaches have been actively recruiting in cities such as Louisville, Lexington, Nashville, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Chattanooga and Knoxville.
"The interest in the school itself is just phenomenal," Severns says. "Everyone we talk to says lacrosse and Centre are a perfect match."
Because at Centre academics come first and athletics second, he adds, "a lot of people are looking to come here because of the great academics and then think, 'Wow, you've got lacrosse, too? That's great.'"
Both coaches have found that many of the high school players with whom they have spoken know of—and are impressed by—Centre's reputation.
"Even with the recruits I have from New York and New Jersey, if they haven't heard of Centre, they have a family friend or relative who knows about it and highly recommends it," Beer says.
Only two other colleges in the state compete in NCAA lacrosse, so Centre's offering the sport is attractive to many high school players.
Because the sport is only now starting to "grow southernly," Severns says, it is unfamiliar to many members of the Centre community. This has not, however, diminished the level of excitement felt on campus.
Whether people are playing or cheering from the stands, "lacrosse is just a great sport," Beer says. "There aren't too many team sports like it because it's so fast. It's something that everyone can get into."
Eager to begin Division III play, the coaches are confident that the first year of Centre lacrosse will be outstanding.
"Centre does a great job of allowing us to build a strong program before we begin competitive play," Beer says. "We weren't expected to just come on campus and play with whoever is here. We were given 10 months to recruit top-notch athletes."
While Severns plans to lead a team of about 32 men, Beer believes she will coach between 22 and 25 women.
And though they know they face challenges in the first year of play at Centre, they are well prepared for the obstacles, having been involved in the sport both as players and coaches.
Severns was an All-American as a player at Cortland State, and Beer spent three years as a starter—and two as team captain—for Clark University's lacrosse team in Worcester, Mass.
From 1976 to 1980, Severns served as an assistant coach for both the soccer and lacrosse teams at the United States Naval Academy. He then served as head coach of the soccer and lacrosse teams at Alfred University until 1984, when he left Alfred for West Point. There, he was assistant athletic director for facilities and assistant lacrosse coach. During his time at the United State Military Academy, he helped the lacrosse team earn a national semifinal appearance.
After Beer graduated from Clark University in 2007, she served as assistant coach for the women's lacrosse team at Framingham State. During her second season as a coach at the school, the team qualified for the Eastern College Athletic Conference Tournament.
With their lacrosse-coaching backgrounds and their success on the recruiting trail, both coaches believe that the future for lacrosse at Centre looks bright.
"We're looking forward to a great first season," Beer says. "I can't wait."
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Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Consumers Digest ranks Centre No. 1 in educational value among all U.S. liberal arts colleges. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices. For more, visit http://www.centre.edu/web/elevatorspeech/
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