The Nebraska lacrosse team huddled at practice being addressed by head coach Brett Long


The Nebraska lacrosse team is starting their 2023 season, and with being a club sport there is a lot more that goes on the inside than you think.

Club sports have always been a major part of college sports. That’s no different at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) where club sports have become a major factor for incoming freshmen looking to play sports.

One sport that not many teams have at the Division I level is lacrosse. That includes UNL, which doesn’t support a lacrosse team, but has one at the club level. As a club, there is a lot more involved, from trying to get more players involved and having to deal with everything in house. And despite not receiving a scholarship or compensation, those involved participate at a high level, one that has elevated the Huskers to among the top club lacrosse teams in the Midwest.

When it comes to teams, though, it all starts with coaching. Nebraska’s club lacrosse team is led by head coach Brett Long, in his third season at the helm. Since he played lacrosse since he was young, Long said he always knew he wanted to get into coaching. He started with youth lacrosse and volunteered to be the coach for the Huskers in 2020. When being a coach for a club team there is a lot in making sure your players are passionate about the sport they are playing.

“It’s great to see the kids develop,” Long said. “You know when you come out of high school it’s a lot more work and a lot more sacrifice so it’s great to see that, and just being around people who are as passionate about the sport as I am.”

The Nebraska lacrosse team is a part of the Upper Midwest Lacrosse Conference (UMLC) alongside other club teams from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota and Ohio. For each team, all the dirty work has to be done by the president of the team. The president for the Huskers this season is Alex Markus, who has played on the team throughout college. A Minnesota native, he arrived in Lincoln not even knowing there was club lacrosse, but once he joined the team, Markus was locked in.

“Being one of the older guys on the team, I felt I could take this on and be a leader,” he said. “Everyone on the team votes who should be the president, but if you want the position you gotta take it.”

Being the president entails a lot of duties. With the help of their vide presidents, they are tasked with scheduling, as well as recruiting. The Huskers’ lacrosse team is an open club for anyone to join. Players are from Nebraska, as well as other locations across the country.

“The sport of lacrosse is still somewhat new to Nebraska,” Markus said. “The level of play is still increasing in the state.”

Now a senior, Markus said he has taken it upon himself to be more of the veteran on the team.

“(It’s) putting in all the work and filling that leader role you want to see the other guys play some more too,” Markus said. “You know I have played for so many years, I have gotten to that point where I am towards the end so I want to push my teammates, and teach them more than playing myself.”

Nebraska’s lacrosse team has developed a brotherhood among the players. A new freshman on the team, Kade ‘Kusz’ Kinen, previously played 11 seasons of lacrosse and said he understands the role.

“Being able to go out there, and compete with the fellas is what is great about it,” Kinen said. “When you go out there and play, you do it for them, not for yourself.”

The NCAA reported that lacrosse is the fastest growing sport in high school and college lately. For men’s lacrosse though, there are only 75 teams at the Division I level. For comparison, NCAA football has 130 teams at the equivalent, FBS level, while men’s basketball stands at 352. Despite the lower number of teams, the NCAA found that in men’s lacrosse, participation has risen by 61%, whereas women’s lacrosse also skyrocketed where their participation sits at 97%.

With the lower teams that is really where the club comes into place, where anybody can come play despite the lower number of Division I teams. Markus said students have contacted him to see what the team is all about, but at the end of the day most people don’t go to Nebraska to play lacrosse. As a club sport, it gives players the opportunity to play lacrosse while they attend school.

“I would say the advantage is you can be in that small percent to still play the sport you love after high school,” Kinen said. “At the end of the day it is still a club, it is not as sanctioned and you only get the facilities for a certain time each week.”

For those who grew up in Nebraska, the school is known to be a football school.

“Growing up I always wanted to be a Husker football player,” Kinen said. “Being able to come here and wear that “N” on the helmet, I feel everyone should get the opportunity to do that.”

The Huskers have struggled this season, at 0-5 thus far. They have three games remaining, including April 2 at Kansas.

“I just want to see them come together and keep growing,” Long said. “Getting on the same page is our main goal, and also just being on the same wavelength.”