by Beth Moller
The University of Northwestern – St. Paul lacrosse teams have achieved an important milestone. The men’s and women’s teams will officially be added to the Midwest Lacrosse Conference and the Midwest Women’s Lacrosse Conference respectively, effective during the 2019 season. Colleges and universities in both these conferences are Concordia University Wisconsin, Concordia University Chicago, Cornell College, and Monmouth College among others. The women’s conference also includes UNW’s Snelling Avenue neighbor, Hamline University. The 2018 season will be the teams’ final seasons in the independent conference.
Head women’s lacrosse coach Taylor Deetjen explained some of the benefits of being in a conference instead of independent. “Right now being in the independent conference it is very hard to reach the NCAA playoffs,” she explained. “The Midwest Lacrosse Conference has an automatic bid to the NCAA playoffs. It also really helps to have a conference schedule your games. The conference advocates for you with a commissioner as well.”
Being in a conference also allows athletes to be recognized more through conference awards. Deetjen explained that she looks forward to being involved in a highly competitive conference. “It is nice that the schedule will be set up for us,” she said. Prior to being in a conference, Deetjen has been in charge of arranging games for the team and figuring out their schedule.
However, one of the challenges of joining the Midwest Lacrosse Conference is the scheduling system that the conference currently uses. The schedule in this conference is typically Saturday and Sunday game days. However, this goes against Northwestern’s policy to never play games on Sunday. Deetjen explained that UNW is working with the conference to resolve this issue while still remaining true to the values that the school follows.
As the leader of the women’s team, Deetjen’s experience in lacrosse makes her highly qualified to guide the team. Her interest in lacrosse began when she was in high school. “One of my best friends in high school was a girl on the boys’ lacrosse team,” she explained. “She taught me about the sport, and we petitioned for a girls’ team at our high school.” Their petition was granted, and Deetjen and her friend began playing on the girls’ lacrosse team. After playing in high school, Deetjen moved on to Bethel University where she played three more years of lacrosse on a club team. “By my senior year, I was the head lacrosse coach at Woodbury High School,” she added. “Five years ago I wouldn’t have believed I would be coaching at a DIII college. This is my fourth year here and our third official NCAA DIII season.”
Going forward into this season, the women’s lacrosse team continues to persevere through the challenges of lacrosse being such a new sport across the Midwest and the scheduling challenges in their last season of planning their own schedule. However, they will follow Deetjen’s lead and focus on the purpose of UNW athletics. “The core of women’s lacrosse is love, attitude, communication, respect, on-time, selflessness, strength and enthusiasm,” she said.
Despite the change coming from joining a conference, Deetjen hopes to stay true to the foundation she has built for UNW lacrosse. She explained, “I hope to bring the same characteristics and be there for the athletes [with the move to a conference].” In addition, her vision for the team will continue to be giving glory to the Lord through the team’s play and reaching other teams through that. “I hope we continue to be more competitive but stay true to the institution and our faith,” she added.