If everything had gone according to her plan, Rachel Frantz would be spending her freshman year of college somewhere in California.

Instead, she's at Augsburg College in snowy, brutally cold Minneapolis.

And she couldn't be happier.

Frantz is a charter member of the first varsity college women's lacrosse program in Minnesota. Division III Augsburg announced it was adding the sport two years ago, and the school will play its first varsity game on Saturday. Frantz thought she was headed somewhere warm for school, but when head coach Kathryn Knippenberg started recruiting her to play, she was sold.

"I had no idea I was going to play in college. It was my wildest dream to play," said Frantz, who played in high school at Irondale. "It's incredible that we can just make history every day. I get emotional just thinking about it because it's so exciting."

Augsburg, like many Minnesota schools, previously had a club program. The Auggies scrimmaged Bethel's club team Wednesday, and Knippenberg used to be the captain and president of the U's women's lacrosse club team.

She, too, never expected to be part of a varsity college lacrosse program. She was coaching the varsity girls' team at Holy Angels in Richfield before Augsburg hired her.

"I never planned on being a college lacrosse coach," she said, adding with a laugh, "You grow up and your parents say you can't rely on sports for a job. I'm showing them now."

And learning the ropes quickly.

"It's definitely a learning experience every day," Knippenberg said. "I'm already excited for next year because I feel like I finally have my feet under me."

The team's initial roster features mostly freshmen and a lot of dual-sport athletes — four hockey players, two soccer players, a volleyball player and one player who quit basketball when lacrosse was added.

"Our hope is to have an MIAC conference in the next 5-10 years," Knippenberg said. That would require five more conference schools to add it. "There have been discussions, but nobody has taken the leap yet like we did."

The real fun begins this weekend. Augsburg plays host to Midland (Neb.) at 6:30 p.m. and Dubuque (Iowa) at 8:30 p.m. Saturday as well as Loras (Iowa) at 2 p.m. Sunday.

"It will be so much fun," said Frantz, who expects a lot of friends and family to attend this weekend. "We just happen to be the first, which is such an honor."

Michael Rand