At the start of the 2018-19 season, the University of Utah men’s club lacrosse team will become a member of the NCAA. This is the first new NCAA sport added to the school since women’s soccer in 1995. Utah will become the first Pac-12 school to have a NCAA lacrosse team playing at the DI level. It will join Air Force and Denver as the only three lacrosse teams established west of the Mississippi. Although there is excitement for the future and what’s in store, the club is grateful for the opportunity to play with each other this season.
Lacrosse captain Aaron Fjeldsted is preparing for this year and the transition to come from working hard in practice every day and taking it one day at a time. Fjeldsted’s favorite part about being on the lacrosse team is having the constant support of his teammates.
“They have so much love for the game and each other,” Fjeldsted said. “And they’re such high caliber people that I’m very grateful to be with, and that’s what makes playing here at the University of Utah so special.”
Fjeldsted is looking to get bigger and stronger throughout the season. He also hopes to improve to the point where the game slows down and comes to him rather than feeling anxious in certain situations. Every player motivates Fjeldsted to play better, especially the players who work on the little details outside of practice. When it comes to who stands out to him with speed and stick skills, freshman Jeff Guckert and junior Nate Berger catch his eye.
The lacrosse club is focused on the team aspect and helping each other make the needed adjustments to become better athletes.
“It’s kind of different than basketball or football in a sense where they have a point guard or quarterback to carry the team because in lacrosse it’s where you need to rely on everyone on the team to have success,” Fjeldsted said. “Everyone is pulling their weight and working super hard, and is a sport that depends on every individual success.”
Head coach Brian Holman preaches on living in the present, and he is focused on the team’s potential and the program as a whole. At the next level, Holman expects his team to bring more intensity than if it were playing club.
“The club level we play in now is really competitive, but now we have to take the next step,” Holman said. “We’re going to have to be more competitive because we’ll play a lot more challenging teams. At the end of the day, NCAA teams just have more. We don’t have 35 division one caliber players yet, and most club teams don’t.“
It’s an ongoing process for the team to stay in physical shape, but Holman is pleased with the efforts from the Utes in the weight room and on the practice field every day.
“We try to challenge our guys and put them in really uncomfortable situations in practice,” Holman said. “My hope is that the games are easier for them than the practices we have. We do a lot of visualization and yoga to try and bring in different aspects for them to clear their mind. In today’s world in sports, there’s so much focus on the competitive aspect, but they also have to free their minds a bit and have a spirit about them.”
The Utes open their final season as a club sport on Thursday, Feb. 15, at 5 p.m. against Cal Poly.