Local lacrosse players, if you want to continue your career in the sport following high school, you have another option right here in the Berkshires.

On Wednesday, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) President James F. Birge and Director of Athletics Laura Mooney announced the addition of men's lacrosse to its varsity lineup with competition slated to begin during the 2019-20 academic year.

Lacrosse has continued to grow in popularity. When I was in high school back in the late 90's early 2000's, the sport was starting to catch some buzz. As the years progressed, more lacrosse programs were introduced to kids throughout the state and country. In fact, according to the school's announcement, U.S. Lacrosse reports that participation in organized lacrosse has tripled within the United States in the past 15 years. Over the last 20 years, there has been an increase of more than 100 programs, nationwide, in Division III alone.

According to Birge, the timing couldn't be better to introduce the program at MCLA.

"Across the country, this fascinating sport – which combines the best qualities of hockey, basketball, and soccer – continues to increase in popularity among athletes and fans alike, and the Berkshires are no exception," Birge said. "The addition of men's lacrosse to MCLA's Athletics program no doubt will be a draw to a number of prospective students,"

MCLA already offers a women's lacrosse program, which made the decision to add the men's side even easier says Mooney.

"The Athletics Department is very excited about the addition of men's lacrosse," Mooney said. "We offer women's lacrosse and, based on the current trends and growth of the sport, offering it on the men's side is logical. This addition will allow us to continue to attract talented student athletes who will positively represent MCLA though athletic competition, while receiving a quality education."

At the present time, the school has not announced a conference affiliation for the men's lacrosse program. MCLA belongs to the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletics Conference (MASCAC), but the conference does not offer men's lacrosse. The North Atlantic Conference (NAC), which MCLA also has an affiliation with, does offer men's lacrosse, so it seems likely that may be the direction it heads.

MCLA has also begun a nationwide search for a full-time head coach, a role that will begin in August to get the recruitment process underway.