Varsity lacrosse team begins to take shape

AnnMarie Kent

One year from now, spectators will make their way into the Superior Dome to watch in the inaugural season of women’s lacrosse led by a seasoned coach.

A national search for a head coach concluded with the hiring of Emilia Ward. Ward built three women’s lacrosse teams at the collegiate level and comes to Northern from Kalamazoo College, where she spent three and half years building their program.

“Next year, we’ll have our ups and downs that you have normally with an upstart program,” Ward said. “I think with the resources that Northern has, between the academics as well as, obviously, the athletic facilities, we’ll be able to build a good program here pretty quickly.”

The Michigan native lettered four years playing Division I lacrosse for Manhattan College in New York City. The team won the conference title and nabbed a berth in the NCAA
Tournament in 2005.

The team will consist of 20-24 women, including women from the NMU club team as well as recruits that will be signed next month.

While Ward has experience starting programs, NMU brings new opportunities for her. These new possibilites are what brought Ward to NMU.

“A lot of it was an opportunity to move to the Division II level,” Ward said. “It was something I really wanted to do, get experience both with scholarship money but also a new level of lacrosse and  having more time to coach the athletes.”

Ward hired Ashley Glenn as the assistant coach. Another Michigan native, Glenn graduated in May 2015 from Albion College.

“I was excited to bring Ashley on staff,” Ward said. “She had a great playing career at Albion College, where she holds several offensive records.  She brings great energy and excitement to our new program.”

The lacrosse team will play within the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, which Glenn described as a competitive conference in women’s lacrosse. Grand Valley State University is ranked 11th in NCAA Division II women’s lacrosse.

“The teams are competitive,” Glenn said. “I think that as women’s lacrosse grows across the country, conferences like the GLIAC are getting better and better. The addition of us is going to help bring the caliber of this conference up in women’s lacrosse.”

As the inaugural season draws closer, Glenn said there’s a feeling of excitement in the athletic department.

“I think it’s going to be really cool to have that experience of getting the whole community involved,” Glenn said. “[At] my other institutions, it wasn’t like everyone came out to watch women’s lacrosse like I get the feeling that people are looking for here. There’s definitely a lot of excitement for the season.”