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Lacrosse program among beneficiaries of MU-Bucks partnership

Photo by McKenna Oxenden mckenna.oxenden@marquette.edu

Photo by McKenna Oxenden mckenna.oxenden@marquette.edu

Allison Dikanovic

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Big things are in store for Marquette’s lacrosse program and other areas thanks to its new partnership with the Milwaukee Bucks in creating a multipurpose athletic facility on the recently acquired plot of land on Michigan Avenue.

University President Michael Lovell announced in his State of the University address on Thursday that Marquette has “developed a strategic partnership with the Bucks.”

The resulting facility will serve student and professional athletes, in addition to use for academic research and campus wellness initiatives. It is expected to include indoor lacrosse and soccer fields and an indoor track.

Lovell explained that the goal for the center is to be “where world-class athletes want to come to increase their athletic performance.”

The initiative is demonstrating renewed university support for and investment in the lacrosse and soccer programs, as well as a continued dedication to sports science.

Joe Amplo, head coach of the men’s lacrosse team, explained that this partnership and facility will affect the future of the program significantly.

“It’s big on so many different levels, mostly from a development standpoint,” Amplo said. “We can guarantee we will be on a full field practicing. Our kids can train in a world-class facility on a daily basis. Then the trickle down effect, how it impacts recruiting. The list goes on and on.”

Among benefits, Amplo highlighted that the team will be able to host home games in the winter months, something they are unable to do now. The Marquette men’s lacrosse team currently plays its games off campus while the women’s lacrosse team plays at Valley Fields.

According to U.S. Lacrosse, the national governing body of the sport, lacrosse was the fastest growing high school and NCAA sport in 2013. There were 60 varsity programs, including 8 NCAA Division I programs, added last year alone, with more than 35,000 players competing.

The student athletes who will directly benefit from this facility reacted positively. Several lacrosse players expressed their appreciation for the steps taken by the university to forward the program.

Lisa Roman, a member of the women’s soccer team and sophomore in the College of Communication, commented on how nice it will be to have an indoor space to use instead of having to run outside on freezing days like these. She said the partnership and facility “will be a great way to connect athletics in Milwaukee.”

Louis Bennett II, a member of the men’s soccer team and junior in the College of Communication, said the opportunity to work with a professional organization like the Bucks will “help Marquette develop its identity as an innovative sports research program.”

Lauren Rimmel, a sophomore in the College of Health Sciences, said she hopes that this research could include a sports nutrition program, improved strength and conditioning studies and more training and observation opportunities for physical therapy students.

“I think the partnership and the new facility will give a lot of really great opportunities to our university as a whole,” said Paige Hanson, a sophomore in the College of Health Sciences. “Research on exercise and movement is something that can contribute to not only college and professional athletes but to the average person as well. Marquette has an incredible exercise science department and the plans for this facility will definitely yield many positive results.”

The facility is expected to be on the 800 block of Michigan Avenue and will be funded through donations, corporate partnerships and grants.

Despite multiple attempts to contact the Bucks, the franchise did not offer comment. The team did tell the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the partnership is not connected at all to their efforts to build a new arena downtown.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing the outcome of this partnership and really interested to see how Marquette will take full advantage of this opportunity,” Bennett said.

Jack Goods contributed to this report.

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