INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Griffon Athletics' newest team, women's lacrosse, will compete as an associate member of the Great Lakes Valley Conference in 2021.
The addition of women's lacrosse was announced in November. The team will begin competition this spring and with Missouri Western becoming the first MIAA member and state school in Missouri to sponsor the sport, associate membership in another conference was necessary.
"We are very excited to join the GLVC as an associate member and are appreciative to Commissioner Naumovich and the GLVC's Council of Presidents for supporting MWSU's entry into the NCAA's fastest growing sport," MWSU vice president of intercollegiate athletics Dr. Josh Looney said. "The opportunity to grow the game in our region and compete for a conference championship alongside three other NCAA Division II women's lacrosse programs in the state of Missouri is an early win and important strategic step forward for our newest athletic program."
Rachel Benzing was tasked with ushering in MWSU's 17th NCAA DII sport and will lead her Griffons into a conference she is familiar with. Benzing finished her playing career at Lindenwood University which is now a full member of the GLVC and helped start the program at GLVC member Maryville University as an assistant coach.
"MWSU women's lacrosse is extremely grateful to join the GLVC in our inaugural season," Benzing said. "With strong ties to this conference, it will be an exciting and meaningful experience to be a part of the growth of women's lacrosse in both the GLVC and the Midwest region. I look forward to seeing our student-athletes compete on this stage against some of the top teams in the country."
The GLVC will feature eight women's lacrosse programs in 2021. Last year, women's lacrosse became the 23rd sponsored sport in the GLVC. Missouri Western will face in-state foes Maryville, Rockhurst and Lindenwood in addition to Quincy (Ill.), McKendree (Ill.), Lewis (Ill.) and Indianapolis.
With 15 total NCAA DII member institutions, the GLVC spans three Midwest states and has been in existence for more than 40 years. The conference sponsors 24 championship sports.
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