BY DARREN REESE
SUN SPORTS EDITOR
GREENEVILLE - A little more than a year ago, Tusculum announced the addition of lacrosse as the school's 15th intercollegiate sport.
Fast forward to present day and the Pioneers are less than 24 hours away from playing the first game in the program's history.
The Tusculum lacrosse team will open its inaugural season Saturday at 1 p.m. at Ohio Valley (Vienna, W.Va.).
"They guys are chomping at the bit," head coach Richard Carrington said. "We've been practicing for four weeks now, the last two weeks of which we have had two scrimmages."
The journey has been long since Carrington was introduced as the school's first Director of Lacrosse on December 12, 2012.
During that 13-month span, the coach had to undertake the task of deciding what needed to be done in order to have a successful lacrosse program in Greeneville.
"It started with figuring out what equipment we needed," Carrington said. "We had to figure out what changes we needed to make to facilities."
"As far as getting players here, there's not too much we can do locally and be competitive. Last spring, there was never two consecutive weeks I was on campus. I spent a lot of time in New York, Maryland, Canada. The process has been long and tedious at some points, but it's also been a lot of fun."
Carrington was an assistant at NCAA Division I Virginia Military Institute before coming to Greeneville, but he had experience starting a collegiate program from scratch prior to accepting the opportunity at Tusculum.
He founded the men's lacrosse program at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia, Pa. in 2008.
Carrington also is well-versed with the South Atlantic Conference. He played for Mars Hill before graduating in 2003 and left as the school's career ground ball leader. Carrington returned to his alma mater as an assistant coach in 2007.
Despite his experience with both building a team from the ground up and coaching in this region, Carrington said getting the Tusculum program started has presented its own challenges.
"When I started the program at Chestnut Hill, I decided to go with pretty much all freshman," Carrington explained. "With this group, I decided to bring in some older guys with experience. So about half the guys we brought in were from the junior college ranks."
"The biggest challenge putting this program together was the timing and the speed that everything needed to happen. Previously, I didn't feel as rushed. I had more time to get it done. Here, it's been almost like a pressure cooker to get it done. But at the same time, I kind of like that. I love that sense of urgency, and that extra push to get it done."
Tusculum will begin the season with a roster of 29 players. Carrington would ideally like 40 players on the team in years going forward.
Some of the starting positions are still up for grabs as the Pioneers head into their opener.
"Depth will be a problem for us this year, and we'll have to find a way to overcome that with what we have," the coach said. "We have found some guys that have stepped up and set themselves apart, but every position is still up for grabs."
"For instance, we have no idea who our starting goalie is. We have two and either of them could start. Either of them could start for several teams in the conference. We aren't concerned about that."
Tusculum's venture into the world of lacrosse coincides with the South Atlantic Conference adding it as a sponsored sport for the 2013-14 academic year.
Mars Hill and Queens shared the top spot in the inaugural SAC preseason coaches poll released last week. Tusculum was ranked seventh.
"I can tell you, the guys are ready for the real thing. They are ready for the dress rehearsals to be over."