Blog: Dome Stories

From zero to big east – fast

Sports lore is full of stories of underdogs rising to champion levels. In 2013, Marquette University didn’t have an underdog team of men’s lacrosse players. There was no team at all.

However that year Joe Amplo took on the job of building Marquette’s men’s lacrosse team. Under his leadership, the program exploded. Amplo’s team won the Big East for two consecutive years.

Marquette lacrosse player inside a university sports complex air dome

No field, no play

Getting Marquette’s lacrosse team to this kind of success was no cakewalk. One big obstacle was the lack of a facility for practice and play. “We didn’t have a field consistently because of weather. We were slaves to the weather – snow, freezing. We couldn’t attract opponents because we couldn’t guarantee a game,” Amplo said.

Marquette's inflatable sports dome

Amplo’s players persevered in those early years. They’d travel off-campus to practice at a hockey rink – logging hours of travel time back and forth. As the team began to demonstrate its talent, the school rallied around the team. A new air-supported dome was built on campus in 2016. Besides lacrosse, the multi-use dome supports the school’s golf and soccer teams.

“It’s an obvious indicator of investment by the school,” Amplo said. “It gives us an opportunity for development because we have a facility to play in that most other teams don’t.”

Amplo says the bubble helps with recruiting because it enables a player to get better and compete. “There’s no more excuses about the weather when you can play inside,” he said.

The runaway success of lacrosse

Group photo of Marquette's lacrosse team

Marquette’s new dome fills with fans when the team plays and Amplo believes lacrosse will continue to flourish as a sport. “It’s the fastest-growing sport in the U.S. at the youth level and it’s only going to get more popular,” he said.

The young men and women attracted to lacrosse enjoy its mix of skills and fast pace. “It’s a good feeling to get out on a field and run,” says Wyatt Koehler, who played in Minnetonka, MN.  “It’s aggressive, but also technical. Kind of the perfect blend between football and baseball,” he said.

Amplo himself was a baseball player before he got hooked on lacrosse. “I couldn’t hit a curve ball. Now? I’m livin’ the dream.”