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As the weather turns warm and trees begin to find their green again, RU students are hard at work in April preparing for finals week and the end of the semester. For most club sports teams at Radford University, seasons draw to a close and new presidents are elected to take the reins. For seniors Caitlin Francis and Kelli Grant, it’s an emotional time. They’re leaving a women’s club lacrosse team which they helped build from the ground up.
As president, Francis was responsible for much of the logistical success of the team this year; she arranged for the team to get top-dollar gear for rock bottom price, she organized practices and set up matches and tournaments throughout the year and expanded the horizon of the team.
Instead of just playing local colleges and universities in Virginia, Francis made sure that the team travelled as far away as Tennessee and North Carolina, while also inviting several big name colleges to come compete at tournaments in the New River Valley region.
Unlike university sponsored teams, all of the scheduling of matches falls on the shoulders of the players on club sports teams. It’s up to presidents and executive council leaders to make sure they secure enough gear, schedule their own practice times on fields shared with other club sports at Radford, and other essentials. What usually falls on the shoulders of an entire athletic department falls on the shoulders of a handful of 20-something-year-old college students who have full class schedules and their own lives, when they’re not practicing or playing.
“As we leave the team, we’re really trying to set up the new generation of people coming in that will take our place,” Grant said. “We want to make sure they get enough practice time on the fields and other things.”
Club teams acquire “points” by participating in charity events or by playing in games throughout the semester. At the end of the semester, points are tallied up and the RU club team with the most points gets first pick for practice field times, along with other benefits. That’s part of the reason why RU students always see club sports teams participating in canned food drives and other charitable activities; they want to rake in more points so they can reap the benefits.
As previously mentioned, this will be Francis’ last year on an organized lacrosse team. She spent two years playing NCAA lacrosse at Ferrum College, and two years on RU’s club team when she transferred into Radford.
“It was cool watching the league grew over the time that I was here,” Francis said. “MAWLL [Mid-Atlantic Women’s Lacrosse League] was so small when I got here, but then we joined and a few other clubs joined too. It’s making for a really interesting competition,” Francis said. “It’s really cool to see how everything’s become very official, even though we’re not NCAA.”
Sophomore Rehn West will take over the office of Vice President of RU Women’s Club Lacrosse, while Francis will be replaced by a dual-presidency.
“Between the people we have coming in to take over the presidency and the vice presidency, they’re very different girls,” Francis said. “But it will be a good system of checks and balances for the team.”
Kelli Grant gave a few strong words of advice to upcoming players on the team.
“Play your game,” Grant said. “That’s what my dad always told me, and that’s what I always tried to do. I’m leaving this team as a very proud person because of how far we’ve come, with all of the great presidents we’ve had over the past four years and with the way we’re setting ourselves up for the future. It was a great thing to get our name out there, but we’ve got to keep it going. Just play.”
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