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29 February 2012

Lacrosse club to play at Cobb Stadium

Samson Magid, sophomore, cradels the ball in his lacrosse stickwhle moving downfield. The game took place on February 24 against University of Richmond, who won 8-6. "The team has gotten off to a slow start facing tough competition," says Magid, "but we are coming together really well as the season progresses... our true potntial showed during this game and gave us a lot of confidence in our abilities." Vincent Fung//The Miami Hurricane

The University of Miami men’s club lacrosse team will finally achieve its goal of playing a home game at Cobb Stadium for the first time on April 19.

For years, the team has felt like it has had to take a back seat to varsity athletics. Just ask head coach Alex Schultes and his players, who practice and play all their home games on the intramural fields behind the Wellness Center.

Among their gripes: No bleachers for spectators. The field isn’t always lined. Students playing and running around right next to them.

How is a team supposed to attract publicity when fans are disinterested in watching them because there are no seats? The answer, according to team captain Joey Atiba, is being able to play at a real stadium.

“Playing in Cobb will raise the perceived legitimacy of the team in a way that playing in the IM fields can’t,” he said.

Schultes, a full-time faculty member and volunteer coach for the team, has been lobbying for this game since he was named head coach in 2009.

Until recently, the Hecht Athletic Center has yet to act on his request.

“We are at the mercy of varsity sports,” Schultes said. “The Department of Athletics is very protective of varsity fields.”

However, this all changed last week. Officals agreed to allow a lacrosse club home game.

“An agreement is in place,” said Chris Freet, associate athletic director of communications.

The club had received permission to play at Cobb on March 6. However, that date was cancelled. According to Freet, there were “conflicts with spring football, women’s soccer practice schedule and track and field practice schedule.” As of now, though, it looks like Atiba and his teammates will get their wish.

Some financial details are still being worked out, but the team has agreed to pay $135 for cleaning of the field after the game and $300 for lining the field before the game. Negotiating for a potential rental fee for using the stadium are still underway.

Paying fees to use varsity sports’ facilities is not a new concept. Recently, the club baseball team agreed to pay $2,500 to play a game in Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field.

Despite the fact that nothing beyond April 19 has been discussed, the UM team is trying to follow in the footsteps of other programs around the country. For example, at the University of Mississippi, where football reigns, the club lacrosse team is allowed to play their home games and practice in the football stadium.

Cobb Stadium is now home to two varsity sports – women’s soccer in the fall and track and field in the spring. There are occasionally other events held at Cobb, such as football scrimmages and public practices, Freet said.

Schultes hopes this will be the beginning of a new era in Miami lacrosse.

“If we had access to a field on a regular basis that was lined, that would be an incredible opportunity,” he said.