For the first time since 2005, the men's lacrosse team at the University of Minnesota has advanced to the national championships, but now they need help getting there.
The Men's Collegiate LaCrosse Association (MCLA) National Championships will be held May 6-11 in Salt Lake City, Utah, and No. 15 Minnesota begins play May 6 at 4:30 p.m. against No. 3 Chapman.
"Due to the long and strenuous schedule the team had this year, we need your help in order to fund our long awaited trip to Salt Lake City," a GoFundMe for the team says.
The fundraiser has a goal of raising $20,000. As of this writing, it had generated about $3,500.
The funds will help pay for travel, lodging and food costs, possibly up to five days worth if they advance through the the tournament.
You might be wondering why a team of students from the University of Minnesota is asking the public to help pay for a trip to the playoffs and not the Gophers.
It's because the men's lacrosse team is a registered student organization at the U of M and is not affiliated with U of M Athletics. In fact, if you go to the official Gopher Sports website, you won't find anything about men's lacrosse.
The lacrosse team's website is a standalone, right here, as is any other registered student team.
"We get zero funding from the U," head coach Rich Limpert told Bring Me The News. "This trip is one of many we've made this year. We went to California and played four games out there. We played on ESPN+ in Virginia, which was a 23-hour bus ride to just get out and play."
Everything they do is self-funded by players, coaches and parents. Over the course of a season, players sometimes spend thousands of their own dollars to participate. A big chunk of the costs is travel, which was basically doubled this year because they had to play two conference schedules after leaving the Central Collegiate Lacrosse Association (CCLA) to join the Upper Midwest Lacrosse Conference (UMLC), which will in turn cut down on future travel demands.
The trip to Salt Lake City for nationals will cost approximately $25,000, Limpert estimates, figuring that the total will be split between about 30 players and coaches. That number drops with every dollar the GoFundMe generates.
Limpert, who is one of seven volunteer coaches on the staff, also explained why the men's lacrosse team isn't part of the NCAA/U of M Athletics.
"There's not a whole lot of lacrosse (NCAA level) in this area, especially at the Division I level. You look at Marquette and Notre Dame and Denver – those are the main Division I schools around here that they'd have to play, so you're looking at plane rides everywhere. Even if you're playing inside of a Big Ten schedule, there's only six Division I Big Ten teams. It's expensive," said Limpert.
"I can see where the U is at."
Another aspect of being a club team versus an NCAA program is that they don't have a paid staff setting up schedules for games, practices, workouts and everything else required to put on a successful season. But those jobs need to be done, and Limpert credits for Minnesotans for doing a lot of it, and all of them are players on the team.
- Clay Diedrich (Cottage Grove)
- Ely Harel (Minnetonka)
- Garrett Lieb (Minneapolis)
- Amar Batra (Plymouth)
"Those guys, on top of going to school, doing all the practices, lifting all of the weights, they're the guys behind the scenes putting together all of the budgets, paying bills, setting up vans and setting up hotels," Limpert said.
Next up, perhaps with some money in their pockets via the fundraiser, is a trip to Utah where they hope to bring a championship back to Minnesota.