Although the Cardinal men’s and women’s lacrosse teams were forced to cut their seasons short this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, both teams will return to the field stronger than ever thanks to a generous gift from Andy, B.S. 1983, and Mariann Youniss.
“This year has been extremely hard on our student-athletes and coaches; to lose consecutive seasons of play and to face so much uncertainty going forward, our young people have every right to feel dismayed,” said Sean Sullivan, University associate vice president and director of athletics. “However, the generosity of Andy and Mariann Youniss will undoubtedly breathe new life into our lacrosse programs, allowing our student-athletes and coaches to focus on their competitive development and programmatic goals. We couldn’t be more appreciative and excited.”
The Youniss Family Endowed Lacrosse Fund will be split evenly between the men’s and women’s teams, which operate side by side at the University, a distinction that was important to both Mariann and Andy.
“It was important for us to support the lacrosse programs at Catholic University because of the important role they play, along with all of the University’s varsity athletics programs, in attracting a broad pool of prospective students,” Andy said. “We are thrilled to make this gift, and a key component in our decision was our ability to impact the women’s and men’s programs equally.”
The Younisses are longtime supporters of the University. In addition to this latest gift benefitting Cardinal Athletics, they have endowed several scholarships in the School of Engineering; the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music, Drama, and Art; and the School of Arts and Sciences, where Andy’s father, James Youniss, is the Wylma R. & James R. Curtin Professor Emeritus.
Both teams plan to use the funding to enhance the overall experience for their student-athletes. Head Coach Meghan McDonogh leads the women’s program, which is a perennial powerhouse in the Landmark Conference. She plans to use the funding to strengthen her team’s operations, including purchasing equipment for her athletes and adding more consistency to her coaching staff, which currently relies heavily on part-time and volunteer coaches.
“It's such a commitment to both programs and will allow us to rally that much more support behind both teams. The opportunity to really elevate both programs together is what's particularly exciting,” McDonogh said.
This summer, Catholic University welcomed Jon Sax as the new head coach for the men’s program, which consistently competes for conference championships. He plans to put the funding toward training sessions with specialists and the purchase of high-quality equipment for his players.
“The student-athlete experience is at the forefront of what we do as coaches, and we want Catholic University lacrosse to provide the most high-quality experience that it possibly can,” Sax said.