Kara Hines swinging a lacrosse stick

Kara Hines has been an offensive sparkplug for the Crusaders, photos courtesy of Capital University

When he signed up to play lacrosse at Ohio State, Tate Stover never anticipated weekends like the one he had in the fall of 2013. Stover should’ve been studying for Calculus 2 exam and yet he found himself on the back of a bus traveling six hours for a game with Maryland.
  “We had access to laptops and everything but the studying got really hard at that point,” the 2013 Olentangy High School graduate says. “I just needed to go somewhere, get some coffee and start studying.”
  After less than a season with Ohio State, he decided to continue his career playing for Capital University, a Division III program almost eight miles down the street from Ohio State’s campus.
  Capital was a part of “Why D III week?,” a celebration of athletes who chose to play at the Division III level, on April 7-13. Stover, a defense man represents a small population of athletes who start at the Division I level and then decide to drop down to Division III. The Capital’s mens lacrosse team has two players, Stover and his Olentangy classmate Jeff Simmons, who made that transition. The women’s team picked up Kara Hines after she decommitted from San Diego State University.
  Last year, Stover was named Ohio Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Week twice and was first team All-OAC and finished eighth in the NCAA Division III with 3.25 caused turnovers per game. As of April 4, Simmons, a midfielder, has scored seven goals and had five assists in Capital’s 8-2 start.
  For the women’s team, Hines was named the OAC Offensive Player of the Week on March 31 and has scored a team-leading 38 goals with four assists in a 6-2 start as of April 3.
  Crusaders men’s lacrosse coach Bill Olin says it’s hard wooing top tier players to attend Capital.
  “I normally don’t get a nibble at that apple,” Olin says of Stover, who committed to the Buckeyes by his junior year at Olentangy. “A lot of people look (moving down to the Division III) as a failure but actually (Simmons and Stover) are looking down the road at what are they going to be happiest doing.
  “I really believe that Division III is a better route for the student athlete. (At Capital) we really push the well rounded aspect.”
  Major Division I programs would seem to hold a very stacked deck in their favor in recruiting. They offer the most lucrative athletic scholarships, receive the most media attention and, in sports like football and basketball, offer the best opportunity for elite players to play professionally.
  At the Division III, there aren’t athletic scholarships. Athletes almost never make ESPN’s Sports Center or the front page of their hometown newspaper. However, neither Stover nor Simmons regret transferring to Capital.
  “Once I got to Ohio State, there was a huge price tag,” Stover says. “We had four-hour practices and you were expected to put in a lot more work outside of that. It’s a lot less stress here. I can actually enjoy playing the sport.”
  “I never had enough time to do my schoolwork,” says Simmons, who played for a full year at Manhattan College before transferring to Capital last fall. “We’d practice for two hours, then do two hours of film work and we had to be up at 6 a.m. to run. I didn’t see myself in having a career in professional lacrosse. I want to get a degree.”
  Hines says she’s glad she got to experience what Division I players go through before starting classes. The freshman midfielder had everything planned out to attend San Diego State but things changed decidedly when she went out to the campus for her official visit.
  “I loved California and their weather. How could you not?” Hines says after practicing in 30 degree temperatures. “But during my official visit, we stayed with the players and lived their lifestyle. They practiced six to eight hours a day. Their whole life was lacrosse. I really started to realize I didn’t want that kind of lifestyle.”
  One of the things Hines loves about Capital is coach Stacey Wood’s emphasis on academics.
  “The time that you put into lacrosse at Capital is equally intense (as a Division I school) but the coaches make it clear academics is your priority,” Hines says. “When I went out to San Diego, they didn’t ask me a whole lot of questions (about what I wanted to do academically). It was all about lacrosse and making sure that was the main priority in your life.”
  Hines says playing for Capital has helped her develop as a player and as a person. When she played for Kilbourne, she was a part of an impressive team. Led by Hines’ six goals, the Wolves defeated Cincinnati Indian Hill 17-7 in the Division II state championship last spring. The previous two years, Kilbourne lost in the state final in 2013 and in a state semifinal in 2012.
  Hines, however, was never Kilbourne’s top scorer. She had to grow into that role with the Crusaders. This spring, Hines provided a third of her team’s offense in the first eight games of the season. Hines, who scored eight goals in a 21-2 win over Mount St. Joseph on March 21, was ranked 13th overall in goals scored (37) and seventh in goals per game (5.29) as of April 3.
  “In high school we had a lot of people who could score. I’m learning to do that a lot better,” she says. “It’s all about who you are. You don’t need that Division I title or that Division I coach (to become a better player). You can make yourself better.”

Tate Stover (23) was a first team all-OAC selection last year

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