Rider adds women’s lacrosse to athletics lineup

By Carolo Pascale

One of the fastest growing sports in the United States is officially becoming a Division I program at Rider. 

Women’s lacrosse was announced to be added to the university’s athletic program by Athletic Director Don Harnum on Aug. 23. 

“We are excited to be adding women’s lacrosse to our portfolio of sports offerings for women,” said Harnum. “Women’s lacrosse is a sport that continues to grow and thrive, both nationally and in the MAAC (Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference), and fits extremely well into our geographic recruiting footprint.”

Women’s lacrosse as a whole has surged in terms of popularity over recent years, with a staggering 300% jump in viewership from the Division 1 National Championship game from 2021 to 2022. On a worldwide scale, the United States won the gold medal in the 2022 World Lacrosse Women’s World Championship in July, with the sport now being considered for the 2028 Olympics. 

Rider will join nine of its other Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference members in offering a women’s lacrosse program, becoming the 10th university in the conference. Rider is also the 61st Division I program to add the sport since the turn of the century. 

The other MAAC members that offer a Women’s Lacrosse program are Canisius, Fairfield, Iona, Manhattan, Marist, Mount St. Mary’s, Niagara, Quinnipiac and Siena. 

As for what the coaching staff will look like, Rider has already begun its search for the program’s first head coach. 

“The search for the women’s head lacrosse coach is a nationwide search,” said Associate Vice President of University Marketing and Communications Kristine Brown. “It is early on in the search process, as the position was only posted a short time ago, but there has already been interest in the role.”

The incoming head coach and assistant coaches will have to build the team from the ground up. Fortunately, lacrosse is rapidly growing in the Northeast and has been for over a decade.

Due to this, the university believes that it will not be difficult to recruit players for the program’s inaugural season.

“According to an NCAA study, women’s lacrosse was one of the fastest growing sports in America over the past 15 years. Participation at the youth level is growing across all demographics, but particularly in the Northeast where Rider tends to recruit a majority of its students,” said Brown. “For all of these reasons and more, including the fact that Rider’s program is Division I, we believe it will not be difficult to recruit new women’s lacrosse student athletes.”

As of right now, there are no plans to add any additional sports to the athletics lineup besides women’s lacrosse, and the program will begin its inaugural season in the spring of 2024.

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