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Nov. 28, 2015 — A new product

Some of you may have read that there is going to be a professional women’s lacrosse league starting up next spring, backed by STX, the lacrosse equipment manufacturer.

There have been drips and drabs of information coming out over the last few weeks, but there have been some bits of published information already about the United Women’s Lacrosse League (UWLX).

The league will run for eight weeks from the end of the Division I Final Four through July.

The league commissioner is going to be U.S. Lacrosse Hall-of-Famer Michelle DeJuliis. We don’t know exactly how much she will be involved in day-to-day decisionmaking or whether she will be the person with the long-term strategic vision that any new league is going to need. She is, however, a pretty good person to get behind any effort to professionalize women’s lacrosse in the U.S.

The league’s footprint will begin in the northeast United States: Boston, Long Island, Philadelphia, and Baltimore are the first four announced teams. No colors or nicknames yet, but I find it interesting that the four announced cities have exactly one STX-affiliated team (Johns Hopkins) in their city limits.

Were I on the league’s planning committee, I would start small and grow into something larger. For Baltimore, I’d start with the Ridley Family Complex at Loyola (seats 6,000) or Homewood Field (8,500) before considering Navy-Marine Corps Stadium in Annapolis (34,000). The Long Island team would do much better at Motamed Field at Adelphi University (2,000) as opposed to Mitchel Field (13,500). For Boston, I’d suggest Cawley Stadium in Lowell (6,700) where the Boston Cannons began their existence, before moving on to either Nickerson Field (10,000), or Harvard Stadium (34,000). In Philadelphia, I know the league would love to move into current NCAA Final Four site PPL Park in Chester (21,000), but the smart money says Farrell Stadium in West Chester (7,500).

As for the league’s sustainability? Well, a lot of that is up in the air. There will be 20 players five members of the front-office staff for each team. The league is being run by a foundation called Play It Forward, which is run by Digit Murphy and Aronda Kirby. They had been with the professional women’s ice hockey team, the Boston Blades, as head coach and general manager, but were forced out by the Canadian Women’s Hockey League for undisclosed reasons.

Murphy, a tireless champion of women’s sports for decades, is looking to create an amalgamation of models. She and Kirby are looking to take from the NWSL, the WNBA, and the United Soccer Leagues in order to be able to create a low-cost league that will eventually be able to drum up sponsors and fund a roster of players.

“We want to be more sustainable and do more community outreach,” Murphy tells Lacrosse Magazine. “This is about owning the sport.”

We also don’t know to what degree rules changes, over and above those already agreed to for the college games, will be in place.

I think the most controversial question is going to be whether STX, as a league sponsor, will push the idea of mandatory headwear similar to what was saddled on Florida a year ago. But I guess those details will start coming out around the time of the U.S. Lacrosse convention in January, and throughout the 2016 domestic season.

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2 Comments»

[…] Gone are legendary international players like Jenny Potter and Monique Lamoreaux, who were on last year’s team. And also gone is the head coach, Digit Murphy, who has moved on to become one of the engineers behind the new national women’s lacrosse league. […]

[…] Thirteen months ago, we wrote this. […]


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