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SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

New Zealand Lacrosse Player Affected by Decision

Kyle+Parker+plays+in+his+second+game+for+the+Thunderwolves+on+Feb.+17.
Photo by Theoren Gernazio
Kyle Parker plays in his second game for the Thunderwolves on Feb. 17.

After only his second official practice with the Colorado State University Pueblo men’s lacrosse team, the new player who traveled from New Zealand learned alongside his teammates that their team was getting cut from the NCAA Division II league after the 2024 season, and instead will transition into a club sport.

Kyle Parker is one of the first-year players on this season’s roster. The 20-year-old Hamilton native first traveled to the United States to play Division III lacrosse at Northland College in Wisconsin last year. Parker accepted the opportunity to play across seas with full support from his parents back home.

CSU Pueblo men’s lacrosse Head Coach Sean Blair contacted Parker in July 2023 after finding him through the transfer portal. Blair offered Parker an athletic scholarship to come to Pueblo to play for him. However, circumstances kept Parker at home during the fall, so he transferred in the spring semester, arriving at CSU Pueblo in January 2024.

“I felt like everyone was in a group when I came in, but they were so welcoming and such a great group of guys, that I fit right in. I felt like I had been here for 10 years after the first week which was awesome,” Parker said.

It was Parker’s ninth day in Pueblo when the men’s lacrosse team were brought into a meeting with the athletic department after a morning practice on Jan. 19. It was during this meeting that the players learned the fate of their team for the first time.

“I barely got here, I was still jet lagged, and they are telling me we are not going to be a team next year. It was pretty rough,” Parker said.

The meeting took place in the Wolfpack Room at Massari Arena. Parker recalled the tone of the meeting was sad, noting some players were crying and some walked out of the room out of anger. To Parker, the meeting did not feel real.

“There was never a discussion about it, we were just told. We’ve never been told still why we were cut. It is like every time we ask, it’s a different answer. They say it’s money, they say it’s not doing well, you know, but like we would just like to know why properly,” Parker said.

In the official press release from the university, it states: “The decision to transition the program to a club sport is in part based on the limited number of NCAA men’s lacrosse programs within the University’s geographic footprint. As a club sport, CSU Pueblo will have far greater competitive opportunities through an association with the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association (the governing body for men’s club lacrosse) and the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse Conference (RMLC).”

Parker looks to score against Rockhurst University during a game earlier this season. (Photo by Theoren Gernazio)

Parker chose CSU Pueblo in part because it was NCAA Division II, but Blair was also a big reason for his commitment. According to Parker, Blair would call him while he was still at home to check in and see how he was doing, which was something no other lacrosse coach had done for him before.

“Coach Blair is an amazing human being. He’s one of my favorite coaches I’ve been coached by. The attention to detail he has, and how much he cares for all of us, and wants us to succeed is insane,” Parker said.

After receiving the news about the fate of their program, the men’s lacrosse team decided they were not going to go down without a fight. The players started an online petition and pleaded their case to City Council. After almost two months later and four games into the season, the team is having to decide their next steps.

“I would say we’ve lost a little bit of hope. We got Council members involved. We got 60,000 signatures on a petition, and yet there’s been no news of any update. There’s been no chance of reinstatement, which is quite sad,” Parker said.

Parker, like many of his teammates, has entered the transfer portal in hopes of continuing his dream to play for the NCAA in the United States. The players are having to worry about talking to other teams and coaches to determine what next year will look like for them.

“I kind of chose CSU Pueblo to be my home for the next three years and to finish my degree. Now I have to move again. I have to redo my Visa, get that done. Transfer all my credits over, I don’t know if they will. I have to find a new place to live basically which is pretty scary when you’re not from this country,” Parker said. “I definitely wouldn’t have come here if I knew there wasn’t stability because I don’t want to be moving around the US because it is a big, scary place.”

Parker has been an influential player to the Pack, scoring in every game so far of the season. According to Parker, this decision has affected the team’s morality.

The Pack has 10 games left in the season with seven of those being played at home at the Art and Lorraine Gonzales Stadium. The Thunderwolves will play at home next against William Jewell College on Thursday, Mar. 14 at noon.

Parker moves with the ball in his stick during a home match at Art and Lorraine Gonzales Stadium. (Photo by Theoren Gernazio)
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