At Key Stadium fans currently see football and soccer balls fly across the field and soon will see lacrosse balls when the first-ever University of Indianapolis women’s lacrosse team steps onto the field in the spring of 2016.
Head Women’s Lacrosse Coach Jillian Howley leads the program. She worked at several colleges prior to coming to UIndy, and most recently she was the head coach for Lake Erie College. She said that while those experiences have helped, building a program has been challenging.
“I have the experience of being a head coach and coaching at other institutions, so I think every time you work with other coaches and other departments, it just puts more tools in your toolbox. But starting a program is not like anything else. So this is just like you are building the plane while flying it,” Howley said.
One of the challenges has been building the program and building the athletes. The new Greyhound roster contains 19 freshmen. One of them is Sarah Konecny, who said she is excited to be a part of the brand new program.
“I think it’s real cool that we’re all freshmen and a part of history, but it definitely has been a little tough,” she said. “I am confident we will get to where we want to be, though, and it has been fun.”
Howley said the transition for the athletes has been the greatest challenge for the program so far.
“Ultimately, it’s been really fun and exciting so far. I think it’s cool to be a part of the inaugural team,” she said. “There has been a lot of progression through fall ball. So from day one to now, it has been a drastic improvement. I think most of the obstacles have just been [about] being young, being freshmen. The transition to college, just adjusting to being away from home and mom and dad not cooking your meals anymore—I think all of that has been the biggest obstacle for this team.”
The team has wrapped up its fall ball competition and will go into winter conditioning and practices before it steps onto the field in February to start its inaugural season for UIndy.
The Greyhounds will be an affiliate of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference for these first few seasons, playing other universities such as Grand Valley State University and Tiffin University. Howley said that UIndy’s place in the GLIAC is only temporary, and that the team hopes the Great Lakes Valley Conference will add lacrosse programs in the future. McKendree University is the only other school in the GLVC to currently have a women’s lacrosse program.
“There are currently more schools in the GLVC looking to add lacrosse programs, so we will move into that conference eventually,” Howley said.
While the Greyhounds work on creating the program and building the team, Howley said none of it would be possible without the help of the athletic department and the university as a whole.
“I think we are really fortunate to work at the University of Indianapolis. Our facilities are phenomenal. You cannot say enough about everyone here, and I do not want to leave anyone out, but they are just great,” Howley said. “We have what we need to be successful, and that’s really all you can ask for. So that part is just top notch.”
The team will kick off its spring season with a trip to St. Charles, Mo. where the Greyhounds will take on the Lindenwood University Lions on Feb. 13 at 2 p.m.