Just over four years ago Jacksonville University and lacrosse was nothing more than just a club league, a group of nine girls created a club team in hopes that the university could expand the game to the Division I level.
Only one player remains from the club team, Jessica Hotchkiss. The next year Head Coach Mindy McCord recruited and brought in the first official Division I lacrosse class as the JU Dolphins became an NCAA squad.
Hotchkiss laughed as she said “I’m the only one that played on the club that first semester and there were probably nine of us total on the team.”
“I honestly thought coach lied and they were going to tell me later there wasn’t going to be a team so I was a little nervous,” Hotchkiss said. “But then all of these great girls showed up next year and we really started a legacy here at JU.”
In 2010 Jacksonville started Division I competition in the NLC and with the help of a core group of freshmen at the time the Dolphins have grown to become the first ever Atlantic Sun Lacrosse Champions and earn the automatic qualifier to the NCAA Championship.
Eight seniors on Jacksonville’s squad can now claim to be the first four year class to the JU lacrosse program.
“Starting the program we started with 21 freshmen so instead of inheriting a program we really had to out recruit freshmen to figure out how to become competitive so we could build this vision of what we wanted this program to be,” Head Coach Mindy McCord described.
Starting as freshmen, the senior class can now joke about how it started off a little rocky as a program, as to be expected, but the group bonded through their hard work to create a strong foundation for the program.
Senior goalkeeper said, “We definitely started from the bottom, but now we are here and we are heading to the NCAA Championship which has been a major goal of ours.”
Rachel Hannon remembers it to be quite the learning experience as they were getting started in the NLC.
“All of those experiences we had our freshman year really made us stronger as a group and that is why we are such a good family because we have been through so much together and we started the program from the beginning,” Hannon said. “I think that is the biggest asset of our team is that we are all one family and we don’t win as individuals, we win together.”
Building that foundation was key for the Dolphins and Head Coach Mindy McCord couldn’t have found a better group to start with.
“Together we make things happen.”
This is the saying that this year’s senior class started when they had just begun the program four years ago.
Tobin said, “We told the team as it grew that it was now their turn to pass that motto on to everyone and if they hold onto that then this legacy will continue to grow.”
McCord could not be prouder of the group of senior on her squad that led them to this A-Sun Championship.
“I think they are a group of the most hardest working players that I’ve ever had. They weren’t top-100 recruits but they became top-100 recruits by the end of their four years here because of their hard work and belief.”