When Hope College launches intercollegiate lacrosse for men and women next year it will be directed by head coaches very familiar with the program.
The transition to intercollegiate sport will be under the tutelage of the current coaches Tracy Benjamin (women) and Michael Schanhals (men). Both played lacrosse during their Hope undergraduate days.
"We are delighted that both Mike and Tracy will remain with our lacrosse programs and student-athletes as we transition these teams to varsity status next year in Hope and MIAA athletics," said co-athletics director Eva Dean Folkert who will serve as the college's lacrosse coordinator. "They bring both significant knowledge and great enthusiasm to their work as lacrosse coaches. We know that the dedication and care they have already given to our club programs in the past will surely continue. We are fortunate to have them leading men's and women's lacrosse as new varsity offerings in Hope and MIAA sports."
The establishment of intercollegiate lacrosse at Hope coincides with its introduction as a sport by the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) in the 2012-13 school year. Competition in men's and women's lacrosse will continue as a club sport this spring. When it becomes intercollegiate there will be a non-traditional season next fall followed by conference regular season and tournament play in the spring of 2013.
Hope's club lacrosse program has an established history, the men beginning in 1974 and the women in 2000.
A 1990 Hope graduate who played lacrosse, Schanhals has coached the Flying Dutchmen since 2005. He coached East Grand Rapids High School to state championships in 1993 and 1994 and for the past 18 years has taught in the North Muskegon public schools. He has coached football, basketball, and tennis during his tenure at North Muskegon. He is a US Lacrosse certified official. He coached the 2010 Flying Dutchmen to a 12-3 season mark and first-ever appearance in the national tournament of the Men's Collegiate Lacrosse Association.
Benjamin is a 2009 Hope graduate who majored in psychology and exercise science. She was an active member of the lacrosse club team, serving as captain in 2007 and club president in 2008 and 2009. In her first year as coach in 2011 she guided the Flying Dutch to a school-record 11 wins and the program's first-ever appearance in post-season play. She currently serves as a counselor in a program that helps troubled teens learn independent living skills.
The addition of lacrosse to the intercollegiate program brings to 20 the number of varsity sports sponsored by Hope, ten each for women and men.