Known as the most expensive club sport on campus, men’s lacrosse is hoping to change their image

The Claremont Cougars will be hosting the first round of the NCAA Division II Playoffs on April 22 at the Pomona College South Athletic Field. Courtesy: Claremont Men’s Lacrosse.

At the 5C Club Fair each fall, the Claremont Cougars, Claremont’s men’s club lacrosse team, can be seen advertising their club along with countless others. However, the $700 per semester price tag attached to the team has provides an inherent barrier. In a sport with a history of financial inaccessibility, team captain Bryce Kelly PO ’23 and faculty advisor John Faranda are acknowledging this issue and are working to make the team more inclusive for all members of the Claremont community. 

Club sports at the 5Cs offer an opportunity for students looking to continue their athletic careers at the collegiate level outside of varsity athletics. Among the benefits of club sports is a relatively affordable price to be a member of the team. Although many teams do require a fee of some kind at the beginning of each season, those costs remain relatively low.

 The women’s club soccer team, for example, only asks for a $25 charge which covers all costs for the remainder of the academic year. 

The Claremont Braineaters, the 5Cs’ men’s ultimate frisbee team, ask their players to pay $100 for uniforms (a fee only required once in four years), as well as the cost of a plane ticket to compete at the National Tournament if the team qualifies. The team does take an optional annual spring break trip to Mexico, which costs $550 in full, but according to club member  Isaiah Curtis PZ ’26, for those who need financial assistance for the trip or uniforms, the team is quick to offer it as necessary.

“I can ask for mutual aid [for whatever I need],” Curtis said. “I have gotten $52 in help with jerseys and $100 in help for the Spring Break trip.”

It should be noted that this financial aid comes from a mutual aid fund, not funding directly from the colleges. 

Meanwhile, the initial fee or sticker price for the Claremont Cougars, the 5Cs’ men’s lacrosse team, is a daunting $700. In a sport often criticized for its exclusionary history, this steep cost may easily discourage some students from even going to the team’s tryouts. The cost of equipment alone has provided a barrier for even youth lacrosse, and families with a household income of over $100,000 have made up 60 percent of lacrosse players in the past 10 years.

Without a varsity or intramural alternative for men’s lacrosse at the 5Cs, one could question the necessity of a steep price tag and what these dues are financing. If other club teams achieve fun and competitive seasons each year at a fraction of the budget, what justifies such a cost?

Competing as a club Division II athletic program and as a member of the Southern California Lacrosse League, the team has to travel to play teams as far away as Arizona and Nevada in order to remain a member of the conference. Travel dues as well as hotel rooms and other housing costs are a leading cause of the expensive fees. 

Unless the guys were just to stop playing away games, the road trips are quite expensive. We have to go to Arizona to play [Northern Arizona and Arizona Christian] … every other year … As long as we’re doing that, there’s really no way around having a pretty expensive team,” Faranda said.

Being a member of their conference adds even more in league dues. 

“We also pay for the referees who are at the games and do a lot of the logistics there,” Kelly said.

The Cougars also have multiple coaches on payroll. Whereas the Claremont Coyotes, the 5Cs’ fully free to play coed club tennis team, are self-coached, Kelly explained the Cougars’ professional coaching staff runs up the club’s price tag.

“A lot of [the fees go] towards coaching pay,” Kelly said. “They spend a lot of their free time driving a long the way and coming over and coaching us and hosting practices, and interact[ing] with the league as well.”

According to Faranda, in comparison to other club sports the Cougars reportedly get very little funding from the Claremont Colleges in proportion to how many students from each school are represented on the team. 

“This year, the Pomona [College] student government gave the team zero dollars. I think the [Claremont McKenna College] student government gave the team $4,500,” Faranda said.

These funds are not nearly enough to begin to support the team financially, so in addition to the players’ dues, the club is working to find additional ways to raise money. 

“We’ve raised the fundraising [in recent years]. We’re just so fortunate that there’s a couple of alumni and parents out there who really are the major funders of the team,” Faranda said. 

Through this external funding, Kelly and other members of the team are hoping to make the team more inclusive.

“We don’t want people to feel like they can’t participate in team activities because it might be too expensive,” Kelly said.

The Cougars work with both parents and alumni to create financial aid packages for players who need them. Faranda leads the financial aid affairs for the team. 

“The team [will] find an alum or parent or someone who will fund the dues for [anyone who says they are not able to afford them],” Faranda said. “I’ve been working with the team for at least 30 years on this, and as far as I know, no one’s ever said they’re not playing because they can’t afford it.”

Discussions of financial aid have the opportunity to become an awkward conversation, especially with ones’ teammates and peers. To avoid discouraging players from reaching out to discuss aid packages at all, Faranda and Cougars head coach Scott Witkin clearly lay out that aid is available upon discussion in an email sent to all players and families prior to each season. 

As usual, if this payment will be a hardship for you and your family, let’s discuss,” Witkin and Faranda wrote.

By leaving these discussions to the coaching staff, the team is working to allow players to be transparent about the help they need. 

Faranda and the Cougars’ leadership are continuing to work to make the team more accessible. As fundraising efforts increase, they hope to offer more aid to those who need it, propelling the Cougars to remain a competitive and reachable environment.

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