YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Youngstown State University is kicking off its first season for the new women’s lacrosse team, and players, coaches and the administration are excited.
“This is really a five- or six-year process that we finally get to celebrate this year,” Athletic Director Ron Strollo said.
At the helm is Coach Theresa Walton and Kendyl Clarkson. Walton is a graduate of Canisius College in New York and has been coaching since 2012 and has coached in Divisions I, II and III.
“I got the opportunity to work with Coach Walton and Coach Clarkson when I was in Virginia, and I got to coach with them, play with them and played against Coach Clarkson,” senior goalie Elicia Wells said.
Wells is the lone senior on the team of 24 and the rest are freshmen, but Walton has gotten a lot of advice from coaches she has worked with in the past.
“I definitely know year one is a different look, but I’m excited for what year two is going to look like for us in the future. But not taking anything away from this group, they’ve taken this really head on their shoulders, and every adversity we’ve seen, they’ve handled it extremely well,” Walton said.
While being the first team at a school might sound intimidating, everyone seems excited and is ready to lay the groundwork for the future.
“Honestly, it means that we get to set the tone for the future and all future teams, hopefully winning teams,” freshman midfielder Erin Clark said.
Wells agreed and said it’s exciting to be a role model to younger generations.
“I think it’s exciting to be a woman that young girls can look up to and want to be like, so yeah, I’m just excited to start traditions and show people what YSU lacrosse is about,” she said.
The goal is the same from Strollo down to the players and that’s to win, which is something Clark knew from her visit before she committed to being a Penguin.
“They look like they’re going to build a winning culture here, and they really presented that to me when I visited,” Clark said.
Walton said this year is beneficial to get to know their conference opponents and build the team’s IQ.
“We have our sights set on the conference and just making sure we take it day by day and know what our opponents are like,” Walton said.
Up next, the Penguins take on Kent State at 2 p.m. Sunday at home. Then, they’re off until April 3 when they hit the road to take on Robert Morris at 1 p.m.