BYU women’s lacrosse and women’s rugby teams officially extramural sports

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The 2015-2016 BYU women’s lacrosse team is excited to now be an extramural sport, along with BYU women’s rugby. BYU also recently announced head coaches for both teams. (Christine Duffy)

Head coaches for BYU’s new extramural women’s lacrosse and women’s rugby teams were announced at the end of October, opening the door to new funding and services for the two teams.

Former BYU women’s lacrosse player Nikki Dabrowski will coach lacrosse and Tom Waqa will coach the rugby team. The new extramural teams join men’s lacrosse, men’s rugby, men’s soccer and men’s and women’s racquetball as extramural sports.

Extramural sports are not NCAA-sanctioned, nor are they part of the BYU athletic department. They’re not club sports, either. Instead, they play against other collegiate teams and are supported by the university. There are no scholarships for extramural athletes, and the players must tryout every year. The BYU Student Life Department directs the extramural program.

“An extramural sport is one that the university funds and allows for its resources to be used by such teams,” extramural sports program director Morris Havea said in an email to The Universe.

Waqa said the new status and financial assistance boosts the rugby student athletes and helps relieve some financial burdens.

“Right now we are fully supported and sponsored by BYU,” Waqa said. “That’s a big change in itself.”

Both the women’s lacrosse and women’s rugby teams now have access to various on-campus facilities and practice fields. Dabrowski said the lacrosse team is excited to use the training rooms and intramural fields during the day before evening intramural games begin.

North University Field, on the corner of University Avenue and 2230 North, will become the team’s practice and home field. Lacrosse lines will be painted and goals will be set up. BYU’s women’s lacrosse team used to practice at Kiwanis Park in Provo and had to set up its own goals every practice.

Other services offered by the extramural office are also now available to the teams, such as classrooms for team meetings and gatherings and the use of university fleet vehicles. Tutors and advisors who oversee graduation plans and grades can also help these student athletes.

The extramural announcement was made in early October, but the head coach decisions were not official until the end of the month.

“They were the best ‘fit’ for the job in terms of experience and development, i.e. mentoring, coaching and advising of the students on these teams in accordance with BYU guidelines,” Havea said.

Both Waqa and Dabrowski coached their teams before the extramural announcement and applied to become permanent coaches after their teams officially became extramural sports.

Dabrowski became the acting head coach for women’s lacrosse in June 2015 when the previous coach stepped down to pursue other interests. Dabrowski contacted the extramural office to remind them about the team’s interest in becoming an extramural sport, as the team had been doing well for many years. The extramural office seeks out information on the players as well as how the program is run when making their decisions.

Dabrowski knew about the extramural announcement a couple of days before the official announcement came out, and kept it a secret from her team. She remembers sitting in the extramural office, feeling a contagious energy of excitement that was experienced on both ends — she was excited about the team becoming extramural and the office was excited their department was expanding.

Dabrowski said it was special for her to remain involved in the program after graduating from BYU in April 2015.

“Having been a former player and still (being) able to be a part of the program, it is incredibly humbling and is a huge blessing for us to be able to be part of the school and represent that name,” Dabrowski said.

Dabrowski also said she wants to give back to the program that offered so much to her.

“Now that I get to be on the other side, I’m really excited to hopefully help other girls who maybe kind of struggle in school and don’t love that, to give them something that should help them push through,” Dabrowski said. “That’s definitely what it did for me.”

The women’s lacrosse team held tryouts in September, but the women’s rugby team will hold tryouts in the weeks to come. Tryouts are open to all full-time female BYU students. More information will be announced soon on byuwomensrugby.com.

“There is no word to describe how excited we were when we heard the story that we’d been allowed to participate as an official BYU sport,” Waqa said.

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