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UW-Stevens Point Athletics expands with two new sports

August 31, 2023
Allison Schmidli, a first-year student at UW-Stevens Point, is looking forward to playing collegiate lacrosse after serving as a goalie for the Neenah High School team for the last three years.
Allison Schmidli, a first-year student at UW-Stevens Point, is looking forward to playing collegiate lacrosse after serving as a goalie for the Neenah High School team for the last three years.

Allison Schmidli visited the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point campus last fall during her senior year at Neenah High School and liked what she saw.

What made the university her top choice was learning that UW-Stevens Point would offer varsity women’s lacrosse in the fall of 2023.

“I was so excited to find out I could play collegiate lacrosse,” she said. “I thought I’d only be able to play on a club team.”

Schmidli is one of about 35 students who will compete in either women’s lacrosse or men’s volleyball this fall, expanding the Pointers Athletics program to 25 varsity sports. Additionally, men’s soccer will be added in the fall of 2024.

“Women’s lacrosse and men’s volleyball are natural next steps in the growth of Pointers Athletics,” said Athletic Director Brad Duckworth. “We are thrilled to have more Pointer student athletes who strive for competitive excellence, academic rigor and exploration, and community service and impact.”

The new men’s volleyball program at UW-Stevens Point is the first among Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) institutions and the 11th in the state. The team will compete against several private colleges from Wisconsin and the Midwest. The season starts in January 2024 and ends the second week of April, with home games in Berg and Quandt gyms.

Several members of the men's club volleyball team will join the new men's varsity volleyball team this fall, including Zach Meyers, #9.
Several members of the men’s club volleyball team will join the new men’s varsity volleyball team this fall, including Zach Meyers, #9.

The team is made up of first year and transfer students as well as returning students who played men’s club volleyball at UW-Stevens Point.

Philippe Abiad, men's volleyball coach
Philippe Abiad, men’s volleyball coach

One of the returning students is Zach Meyers, Bristol, Wis., a senior majoring in health promotion and wellness. Meyers, who has played volleyball since he was young, played with UW-Stevens Point club men’s volleyball for the last two years and competes in a variety of leagues over the summer. He is excited to have the opportunity to play a varsity sport before he graduates from UW-Stevens Point and heads into a career as a health and conditioning coach.

“I’m looking forward to more competitive games and more home games,” said Meyers, as the club team traveled for most of their matches. “Most of the guys I played with the last two years are also on the team, so there will be some familiar faces.”

“It’s great to be able to build a program and a team culture,” said men’s volleyball coach Philippe Abiad, who started the Wisconsin Flight volleyball club in Stevens Point. He recruited players from club teams in Wisconsin as well as Illinois, Idaho, Colorado and Arizona.

Christian Diaz, women's lacrosse coach
Christian Diaz, women’s lacrosse coach

“The first year will be tough as we start out,” he said, “but it’s also exciting to find our strengths and weaknesses and get where we want to be.”

UW-Stevens Point’s women’s lacrosse team will be the fifth UW System team in the WIAC and the tenth Division III program in the state. Home games will be held at the new turf field behind Marshfield Clinic Champions Hall starting in March 2024. The team has about 17 members who are both new and returning students.

“I’m excited to see the team take shape and bring in players who are a good fit and will thrive,” said coach Christian Diaz, who previously coached both men’s and women’s lacrosse at the University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy in St. Louis.

For those unfamiliar with the game of lacrosse, Diaz said it has elements of hockey, soccer and basketball, with 12 players and one goalie.

The amenities of playing on the new turf field as well as access to excellent athletic facilities and great academic offerings drew Diaz to the position and helped him recruit athletes for the team, he said.

Schmidli, who was a goalie for three years on her high school team, is looking forward to meeting her new teammates and playing the sport she loves.

“Lacrosse is a quick-paced game that keeps you on your toes,” she said. “It thrilling to watch and to play.”

She will major in psychology and sociology and hopes to have a career helping those with mental health issues by working as a psychologist or psychiatrist.

“I’m really excited about starting a new chapter of my life at UW-Stevens Point,” she said.