Pitt Announces Addition of Women’s Lacrosse Team in 2021


Photo via Pitt Athletics

Pitt is planning to add a division one women’s lacrosse team for the 2021-22 season.

By Tessa Sayers, Assistant Sports Editor

University of Pittsburgh’s Athletic Director Heather Lyke announced Pitt will add Women’s Lacrosse as a varsity sport in the 2021-22 academic year on Thursday. Its first season will be in the spring of 2022.

The addition of the women’s lacrosse team will give Pitt a total of 20 varsity sports — 11 women’s and nine men’s.

“On behalf of our University and Department of Athletics, we are extremely excited to announce the addition of women’s lacrosse as a Division I sport at Pitt,” Lyke said in a press release on Thursday. “We are grateful for the support of our Board of Trustees and Chancellor Patrick Gallagher. Their belief in the vision and future of Pitt Athletics has been vital.”

Before making the announcement public, Lyke reached out to Kevin Tidgewell, head coach of the Women’s Club Lacrosse team, and asked to meet with him to discuss the new team.  

“She was nice enough to reach out to us, so I met with her [Thursday], Tidgewell said. “So she gave us the info, but literally right before they had the press release and everything.”

According to its website, the Women’s Club Lacrosse team has been a part of the University of Pittsburgh for over 25 years.

During that time, the club team has won five Women’s Collegiate Lacrosse League Championships and has made 12 total appearances in the Women’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association national tournament. They won the WCLA Championship in 2014 and were the runners up in 2017.

“I think, honestly, the history of the club team is what made it almost a no-brainer to start a varsity program,” Tidgewell said. “I was super excited about it.”

Tidgewell imagines the club and varsity team will interact a lot, including the possibility of scrimmaging or just getting coffee to talk about plays.

Along with their championship history, the club team also has a history of playing Division I, II and III schools, making a collaboration even more likely. In the fall, the club team plays college teams in order to prepare for its spring season.

Megan Lynch, co-president of the club team, said there is a possibility some of the club’s players will try to join the varsity team, but believes it won’t affect the club too much.

“A lot of players choose to come here instead of playing DI, DII or DIII because they have the option of studying whatever they want and still be able to play competitive lacrosse,”

Lynch said. “I feel like in general that’s something club lacrosse is really known for, so I feel like a lot of girls will still come for that reason.”

Whether or not any current club members will be recruited or be asked to try out will be up to the coaching staff. The search for the first head coach for varsity Women’s Lacrosse will begin after the 2019 Women’s Lacrosse Championship game, according to the press release, which will be held May 26 at Homewood Field in Baltimore, Maryland.

“We believe our program will be highly attractive to outstanding prospective student athletes as well as talented coaches who aspire to compete at the highest level in the nation’s top lacrosse conference,” Lyke said in the release. “The breadth of exceptional talent here in Pennsylvania will be a major recruiting asset for our new coaching staff.”   

Upon its creation, Pitt Lacrosse will become the ninth women’s lacrosse team in the ACC, an already decorated conference. Last season, five ACC teams made it in the 26-team NCAA tournament, including runner up Boston College, which lost to James Madison 15-16 in the Championship game.

Women’s lacrosse will be the first addition of a new sport at Pitt in over 20 years. The last addition was women’s softball in 1997-98.

It also looks like women’s lacrosse will be the last sport added for a while. When asked about it at the press conference, Lyke said there are no immediate plans to add a men’s lacrosse team, but she and her staff will continue to look into their options and to “never say never.”

Pitt is adding its new team at a good time. According to the US Lacrosse 2017 participation study, from 2012 to 2017, NCAA schools sponsoring women’s lacrosse grew 32.5 percent. And from 2012 to 2017, the number of college women playing lacrosse grew from 10,207 to 17,331.

To most, adding a lacrosse team at Pitt was not a question of if, but a matter of when. Lyke has a history with lacrosse, acting as the chair of the NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Committee in 2014. And Pittsburgh is already rich with talent — last year Hampton and Pine-Richland both won its second straight 2A and 3A State Championships, respectively.

“I definitely think they could become a very competitive DI team,” Lynch said. “I was honestly just a little bit sad I’m not going to be here to see it all happen.”