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Next Collegiate League continues to increase interest among HBCU's

Posted at 5:51 PM, Jun 05, 2024

BALTIMORE — Growing women's lacrosse among HBCU's has been a key focus in Maryland.

This year, the Next Collegiate League-a testing and training ground for the next generation of lacrosse players and the sport with 15 teams at various HBCU's- created a women's league.

Angelina Pinto, a senior on Morgan State Club Lacrosse team, spoke out about the sport's growth at HBCU's.

"I definitely think HBCU's, especially in the lacrosse world, don't get the recognition they deserve," said Pinto.

After noticing the men were already playing in the NCL, Pinto worked to create a women's lacrosse team back in November 2021.

"At first it was a little bit rocky. We probably had about four or five people come outside and just pass the ball around. We didn't really have people that were dedicated enough and have people that knew how to play. So, we were kind of teaching them as well as trying to get things in motion for us to play games," said Pinto.

Year-after-year, she saw the interest among women continue to grow.

Three years later, Pinto and her team are fresh off of celebrating the women's inaugural championship. Morgan State defeated Hampton 11-10 in an overtime thriller.

"It was such a surreal experience. I still can't get over the fact we won the championship," said Pinto.

The Maryland Sports Commission has put base funding into the NCL through the Youth & Amateur Sports Grant Program and Michael Erin Busch Fund.

It's added six women's teams to the league.

Normally, women's rules wouldn't have them playing with the same equipment as men. The NCL wanted to promote equity.

"A lot of us actually enjoy playing with the men's equipment more now. We can be more physical, we can have more fun and be more creative. The women's game is very technical," said Pinto.

The women also play sixes lacrosse just like the men, which will be added to the 2028 Olympics.

"We will have players from the Next Collegiate League, representing their countries in 2028. The next collegiate League will become the training ground for players who want to compete in the Olympics in 2028," said Liam Banks, Commissioner of the NCL.

In order for that happen, Banks and Pinto say the league must continue to pour into HBCU's, utilizing resources like up-to-date fields, proper equipment and quality officials.

"They need the resources and the outlet. In most inner cities, all you see, is basketball courts and open fields and tracks. They don't really have the resources like lacrosse sticks or people who know the game of lacrosse, who look like them who can help mentor them. If we have more mentors who look like us to help teach the youth how to play the sport, we can really grow as a whole," said Pinto.