Where have all the veterans gone?
Whether taking in a game at Carlson Stadium or the Regents Center, fans of Luther athletics may have noticed a large influx of first-year athletes. With their wide involvement in all fall sports, the class of 2016 is already showing strong.
Luther College Photo Bureau
The women’s volleyball and tennis teams are made up of 48 and 47 percent first-years, respectively. Other teams with at least 30 percent first-year participation include men’s and women’s soccer, football and men’s and women’s cross country.
But with so many athletes from just one class, where does this leave the upperclassmen on the teams? Unfortunately, some might find themselves cut.
According to Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Joe Thompson, this shouldn’t concern upperclass athletes.
“The number of kids that get cut from any program tends to be pretty small, probably around five, plus or minus a little bit,” Thompson said. “When I came 18 years ago, Luther had a no-cut policy,” Thompson said. “[I suppose] it’s been 10 or 12 years [since] the athletic department looked at that policy and decided to drop [it].”
Currently, Luther has an estimated 550 student-athletes in any given year. The primary reason for dropping the no-cut policy had to do with increasing numbers of Luther student-athletes and constraints posed by limited facilities and equipment.
Some sports, like football, simply need more players on the practice field to benefit the team as a whole.
Noah Lange / Chips
“Everybody in a program contributes,” Assistant Head Football Coach and Offensive Line Coach Paul Hoffman said. “Some people are playing on Saturdays. Some people are back ups. Some people are scout team players. Those people are so important … everybody’s got their roles.”
The implementation of junior varsity teams is a way that coaches are trying to give every student an opportunity to participate.
But with so many arenas in which to participate at Luther — athletics, music and academics — retention of student-athletes is key. Students may try something their first year of college but, as time goes on, they may lose interest or become involved in new activities. Keeping players within the program is something coaches like Hoffman strive for.
“Our student-athletes do a lot of other things, whether it’s music, whether it’s being pre-med,” Hoffman said.
Sports and music are comparable in that the athletes and performers who will benefit or redefine the program are those in highest demand.
“It’s our job as coaches, for the sake of the school and the program, to go out and recruit better players,” Hoffman said. “So, if we do a really good job, those [first-years] might start.”
In that, Thomspon notes that the recruitment process isn’t class-selective as much as talent-selective.
“We’re trying to find the best student athletes and the most talented student athletes and you never know which class they’re going to reside in,” Thompson said.