For much of the GCLA's early history, its eastern shoulder was at least the equal to its western. While Houston-Metro anchored the west and started its spin-offs close in, the east was, well, a beast. With Metro, New Orleans was the GCLA's co-founder but it was not alone in its neck of the woods. Tulane was there also.
For a time, NOLC and Tulane were just as big a threats to capture GCLA honors as anyone. Tulane won the GCLA title in both 1996 and 2000, while NOLC was GCLA Finalists in 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2002. Joining them were the off-again, on-again likes of Loyola, Jackson, Spring Hill, LSU, and a few others. It was quite an interesting ride!
Fast forward to today......LSU and Tulane seem to have found their home in the Lone Star Alliance of the MCLA. Jackson is long gone, as is Loyola. In fact, NOLC has really been the lone truly active presence in what was once a proud region for the league, and they have been struggling to overcome geography and the aftermath of Katrina to remain GCLA-relevant. (They do remain relevant in a broader sense as hosts of the Mardi Gras Tourney).
The Third Coast Hooligans of the Gulfport/Biloxi area have found ways to keep themselves busy, but as far off as NOLC is from the rest of the GCLA, they are even further isolated.
However, there may be signs that things might begin to change, that the sleeping giant, while maybe not yet awake, may at least be stirring.
Interested parties are laying groundwork for the return of a Lafayette team, named Acadiana Lacrosse. They already have a Facebook page and are looking for players. Plans are to connect this team to Houston-area teams by meeting in the middle somewhere, by creating the sort of meeting hub in Beaumont that has already been started in Victoria. It would seemingly do the job!
Is the creation of a Lafayette team it? Maybe for the moment, but maybe not.
High School and college programs have turned out hundreds of players throughout the years all over the state. Why not Baton Rouge? Shreveport? Why stop there?
If enough teams can come back or be created to bring back the old Eastern Conference, then such a GCLA division could provide the type of focused security that can allow the league- and lacrosse- to grow even more.
At the very least, NOLC, Third Coast, and Lafayette could easily see 4-6 additional games on their schedule than now, and possibly much more.
The key to 2012 is starting early enough in 2011. Acadiana is taking the steps. Who will be next? Sherevport?
As many lax players as have been created, trained and turned out of southern Louisiana, Shreveport has been even more prolific. If there was a city anywhere in our region that could just "declare" a club team and go at it, its Shreveport.
Hence, with just a little bit of elbow grease, the eastern division could feature NOLC, Third Coast, Acadiana, and Shreveport as early as next season. With a little MORE effort, you can add Baton Rouge and Jackson.
As of this moment, this is less about mechanics than it is about simple vision. If more people can share this vision for club lacrosse, it can happen and happen fast- sooner rather than later.
All it takes is for a few more people to simply open their eyes!