Dominican University gains popularity due to lacrosse

February 23, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
The most famous lacrosse player ever was probably Jim Brown at Syracuse. He went onto a Hall of Fame career. Although lacrosse is mostly an East Coast sport, it is thriving in the Bay Area at Dominican University in San Rafael.

Dominican University is known more for its nursing school than its sports programs. So it is not surprising that 70 percent of the students are female, but that is changing and one of the reasons is lacrosse.

"I think we're going to start to see some more schools, some small schools that maybe don't have football program that are looking for a high-action type sport to add to their athletic department," says Ned Webster, the Dominican lacrosse head coach.

Dominican is one of only three universities in California that's NCAA sanctioned in lacrosse. It's a club sport in most schools.

"In my previous four years we weren't NCAA and it's tough to grow the program because there really is no NAIA lacrosse," says Webster.

It is definitely growing. There are 16 freshman on the Penguins' 26-man roster and are predominantly from California, as they would rather stay local than go back East. The sport has a multi layered appeal.

"It's one of the only Native American sports which is a really interesting fact about it that draws me to it," says Tai Sing Hee, a Dominican lacrosse defensiveman.

Tai played two sports at Novato High School and had his reasons for choosing lacrosse over football.

"I like the physicality along with the technique it requires to master the sport. I always liked the idea of hitting other people with sticks," says Sing Hee.

It has also become popular on campus.

"It is kind of like basketball in its movement of the ball and all that, and that it's hard hitting like football and hockey," says Jim Little, Dominican lacrosse attackman.

"Once people in California and the Bay Area really start to understand the rules, they'll gain a much larger appreciation for the sport," says Webster.