By: William Hackett
UMW recently moved from the Capital Athletic Conference to the Coast to Coast Conference. The change will allow UMW athletes to play against teams from all across the United States, including schools from California, Wisconsin, Massachusetts and New York. Previously, the school only played against teams along the East Coast.
This change has the potential to attract athletes from around the country to UMW to compete against schools they would never have been able to if they attended smaller Division III universities.
“I am excited to have the opportunity to play teams from all around the country, not just in the Virginia region,” said Brook Barsella, a sophomore finance major and member of the women’s lacrosse team.
For some student athletes, the inclusive athletics program is a huge part of what drew them to UMW.
Barsella is from Hudson, Ohio which is 415 miles from UMW’s campus. “When I first visited Mary Washington, I got to meet all of the girls on the team and I felt included immediately. Other schools I visited did not give me the same welcoming,” said Barsella.
At UMW, recruits who are interested in playing on a sports team can fill out a recruiting profile for their desired sport. This lets coaches know that they are interested in learning more about the university and their particular sport. Coaches also reach out to potential recruits at club tournaments, which is where they see most of the out-of-state players.
“Coach Moore contacted me in the fall of my senior year of high school after seeing me play at a club lacrosse tournament. I hadn’t heard of UMW before but after doing some research about the school and asking people about it I was interested,” said Barsella.
One of the draws of UMW is their wide reaching athletics program. According to the State Council for Higher Education in Virginia, 9 percent of UMW students are out-of-state. Athletics at UMW increases the number of out-of-state students at the university as sports attract people from all around the country.
The women’s lacrosse team is a prime example of this, as its in-state and out-of-state student percentages are the opposite of the University’s as a whole. Of their 38 players, 79 percent are out-of-state, with only eight athletes being from Virginia. The women’s tennis team has all out-of-state athletes ranging from Georgia all the way to Colorado. Both of these teams have been nationally ranked almost every year for the past ten years.
“Seeing that UMW has been nationally ranked made the choice to attend Mary Washington a lot easier. I have always wanted to make it to the NCAA playoffs and to have a chance at winning the National Championship,” said Carly Kingston, a senior women’s lacrosse player from Longmeadow Massachusetts.
UMW competes in 19 sports and has 509 student athletes traveling from all over the United States to compete at the national Division III level. These student athletes make up a large portion of the university’s out-of-state students, and continuously add to the competitive culture of the school. With the recent transfer to the Coast to Coast Conference UMW solidified its standing as a national Division III university.