YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. – Young Harris College President Cathy Cox recently announced the addition of men’s and women’s lacrosse as well as competitive cheerleading as intercollegiate sports beginning with the 2012-2013 academic year, following approval granted by the Young Harris College Board of Trustees at their semi-annual meeting in November in Atlanta.
“As we continue our four-year transformation at Young Harris College, we are pleased to expand our athletics offerings to include men's and women's lacrosse and competitive cheerleading,” said Young Harris College President Cathy Cox. “We are excited to now begin recruiting students who will kick off these programs with us next year.”
The news follows the president's announcement in July that the Mountain Lions had been accepted into the NCAA Division II membership process and are now in Candidacy Year One. YHC currently compete at the intercollegiate level in baseball, softball, and men's and women's basketball, cross country, golf, soccer and tennis.
“Lacrosse has been the fastest growing sport in the nation over the past five years,” said Director of Athletics Randy Dunn. “YHC wants to be a leader in providing academic and athletic opportunities for high school student-athletes that want to compete at the collegiate level. Lacrosse will be attractive to many prospective student-athletes, and we believe it will enhance our entire campus."
According to the latest participation survey by U.S. Lacrosse, the sport’s governing body, the number of NCAA lacrosse programs grew from 428 to 608 from 2000 to 2010, and the growth shows few signs of slowing. Thirty-eight new varsity programs began play in 2011 and another 26 are set to come on board in 2012. Lacrosse is also the top growth sport in men (22.4 percent) and women (30.3 percent) over in the past five years in the NCAA.
Data from the National Federation of State High School Associations shows that lacrosse has the fastest percentage growth rates in the last five years in both boys’ and girls’ sports. From 2005 to 2010, a total of 1,349 varsity high school teams were added in the NFHS survey. Georgia, which currently has 75 high schools that have lacrosse teams, is one of 21 states with governing associations that sanction/recognize high school lacrosse.
“Competitive cheerleading will give our current students and prospective student-athletes the opportunity to compete at the collegiate level against other top colleges and universities around the country,” said Dunn. “It will provide an opportunity to promote our college to broader audiences in new venues, and it will create a more enthusiastic and spirited collegiate environment.”
A national coaching search will commence immediately for a director of lacrosse and a competitive cheerleading coach. Interested candidates may apply online at yhc.edu/employment. Students interested in playing lacrosse or competitive cheerleading for the Mountain Lions should contact Dunn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This milestone adds to the positive momentum building over the past few years as the 125-year-old institution returns to its roots as a four-year college.
Since earning its accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in 2008 to grant bachelor’s degrees, Young Harris College has been adding baccalaureate majors and academic programs at a rapid pace. As of 2011, YHC now offers 15 baccalaureate majors—art, biology, business and public policy, communication studies, English, early childhood education, history, mathematics, middle grades education, music, music education, musical theatre, outdoor leadership, religious studies and theatre—as well as a full array of minors and teacher certifications. The College will continue to roll out new academic programs annually.
In addition, Young Harris College has doubled the size of its faculty in just four years and hired additional staff to support the new academic offerings and student programming.
In May 2011, the College conferred its first bachelor’s degrees in nearly a century, and in August, YHC broke enrollment records for the fifth consecutive year with approximately 900 students on campus.