Rules are meant to be broken, and those within NCAA women’s lacrosse have proved to be no exception. This year, changes have been made in hopes of creating a better and safer sport for its players. Technicalities such as playing area measurements, team bench areas, and fouling adjustments have provided minor changes.
For Cornell head coach Jenny Graap ’86, the most important rule change, however, is the addition of the protective eyewear requirement. In her opinion, the new rule “reflects the evolution of the women’s game.”
Indeed, as women are constantly becoming stronger, faster, and more competitive athletes, the addition of safety equipment that is already a part of the men’s game was inevitable. In recent years, Division I contests have become increasingly physical, and the injury rate is now more of a concern for female players.
With the addition of new sticks into the women’s game, as well as the increasing strength and speed of its players, the rates of injury have gone up, resulting in a much higher regard for safety.
Graap remarked that the size of the lacrosse ball fits perfectly into the eye socket, allowing for “potentially irreversible damage” if a player were to get hit. In fact, last spring, two Cornell players suffered eye injuries during practice.
“Both injuries were serious and resulted in missed playing and practice time,” Graap said. “Fortunately, neither injury permanently impacted the player’s vision. Both players wore protective eyewear for the remainder of the season and performed fine.”
Eye protection goggles are now mandatory for all NCAA tournaments, and highly recommended for college play as well. High school players in the state of New York also wear goggles. By Jan. 1, 2005, eye protection will be required for all college games. Cornell will be no exception, and will be complying with the rules by ordering goggles in January so that the team will have the new equipment for its season this spring.
The only other rule change that is likely to significantly affect the game is the new coaching box.
“In the past, coaches were permitted to walk behind their opponent’s team bench and stand right alongside the opposing coaches on the sideline. So, many verbal conflicts resulted from coaches being so close to one another,” Graap said.
The new rule, which requires coaches to remain in their own coaching areas, will keep them farther apart and inaudible to each other. If any coach violates the rule during the game, his or her team will be penalized.
The Red women, however, probably won’t be affected.
“Personally,” she said, “I don’t have a loud voice, so few people hear my comments anyway.”
Archived article by Julie Heckman