By: Natalie Van Dyke/GCU Staff
For the first time in history, the Western Women’s Lacrosse League will host its regional tournament in Arizona.
On April 18-19, 2020, Grand Canyon University will host 12 women’s lacrosse teams from Arizona, California and Nevada in the WWLL Playoffs. Of the 34 teams in the league, the top eight Division I and top four Division II teams will travel to GCU to compete for a league championship and chance to travel to Round Rock, Texas, May 6-9 to play in the Women’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association National Championships.
Lopes’ Head Coach Tracy Gallihugh submitted the bid to host the tournament, and gave major credit to the GCU Club Sports staff in receiving the bid.
“We’re excited to bring people to GCU,” said Gallihugh. “Having four full-time athletic trainers for club sports is unheard of, and we have an incredibly supportive administrative staff and beautiful facilities.”
“It’s due to both the incredible support of our administration and the steady growth of our overall program that we’re able to extend a bid to host something like this,” added GCU Director of Club Sports Dan Nichols. “Bringing that many teams to our campus in the spring gives us a unique opportunity to showcase our facilities and our operations – not to mention give our team a great homefield advantage.”
Beyond the support from the department, GCU has proven to be a great location to host the championship event. Besides the sunny weather, GCU’s campus is just 10 miles from the airport and benefits in lodging teams at the GCU Hotel. GCU offers six on-campus fields for tournament play, including the use of GCU Soccer Stadium, which holds a capacity of 6,000 fans for the championship games.
“I’m beyond excited about it,” said Gallihugh. “It’s very rare for the southern conference to host the tournament, and it’s great to have that exposure. It’s also great lacrosse exposure for the state of Arizona.”
The Grand Canyon State currently has just one Division I women’s lacrosse team in the National Collegiate Athletic Association and only four collegiate club teams. Things aren’t much different at the high school level, where only 12 schools have teams competing in the Arizona Girls Lacrosse Association, out of 1,003 high schools in the state. The opportunity to host a tournament and bring exposure to women’s lacrosse was one Gallihugh was not willing to let pass by.
“We are here and here to stay,” said Gallihugh. “We are very invested in our team and in our league. We are going to be competitive in our league this year, and look forward to bringing recognition to the sport we love.”
The Lopes kick off their journey to the WWLL Playoffs on Jan. 25 with their first league game against the University of California-Santa Barbara at Prescott Field on the GCU campus.