This season marks the 50th anniversary of Cal men’s lacrosse as a club sport. To celebrate this milestone, local high school and youth lacrosse players from all over Northern California will create a human “50” on the field during the club’s March 7 game against University of Florida, which will take place at 7 p.m. at California Memorial Stadium.
Born in 1963, Cal men’s lacrosse was started by Rick Rickerson and C. Hackett Bushweller, two graduate students at UC Berkeley. Interested players responded to an ad in The Daily Californian, Cal’s head football coach outfitted the men in old football jerseys and Stanford’s team provided some old practice gear — and the team was born. To create publicity for the young team, Rickerson persuaded Abercrombie and Fitch to sponsor the team’s very first scrimmage — against Stanford. Agreeing, Abercrombie and Fitch created a “broken-stick trophy” that would be awarded to the winning team, reminiscent of “The Axe.” Much to Stanford’s surprise (but not ours), Cal’s team was victorious! The game became an annual tradition, but unfortunately, the original trophy was lost. However, a new “broken-stick trophy” has been created for this year’s Cal vs. Stanford game, which Cal will host on April 26.
In 198o, Cal’s team played an integral role in forming the Western Collegiate Lacrosse League. Since then, Cal’s team accomplishments include seven WCLL championship titles and a national championship title in 1998. Historic rivalries that continue today include those with Stanford (within the WCLL) and the University of Colorado.
But Cal’s lacrosse program has more than just history to celebrate — the players are still an impressive group on and off the field. The team is made up of a diverse group of talented athletes, including a current Cal football player, a former rower and a fifth-year senior who is a NASA patent signatory. The combination of student leadership, alumni network, parent support and consistency in coaching staff are crucial components of the team’s success. The team sees all of its players graduate and has been named sports club of the year twice in the past five years. Last season, one player received the prestigious designation of second team All-American, and the team had an average GPA of 3.33.
The team’s goals for this landmark season include “making it to Nationals by winning conference,” according to head coach Daniel Nourse. Last year, the team finished 14th nationally, missing the national tournament by just one spot. In the future, an ultimate goal of the team is to become a varsity team. “We strive to work as hard as a D1 team,” said senior and team captain Eric Soenksen.
To learn more about the Cal Lacrosse family, check out bearslax.org, or follow Calbearslax on Twitter.