Albion College men’s lacrosse head coach Jake DeCola and the rest of the men’s lacrosse team have really turned their program into a dominant force in less than five years. The first Britons season was in the spring of 2010 and even though it wasn’t the greatest year statistically, the Britons never looked back and only focused on improving.
“We definitely started from the bottom to get to where we are now,” said Daniel Genord, assistant coach. “We were not very good my first year, only having 13 players on the team and struggling to put guys on the field was tough.”
Genord ended up being one of the original five founders of the men’s lacrosse team. After four years on campus, Genord ended up setting the record for most points (106) and goals (96) for the Britons. The five original founders include five alumni of Albion College. Genord, Brandon Allwood, Williamstown senior, James Kehoe, ’13 alumnus, Jeremy Simms, ’13 alumnus and Mitch Loney, ’13 alumnus.
Since the start of the program, Coach DeCola has always improved on his record from the previous year. This season, the Britons have started with a record of 9-3, the best 12-game start in DeCola’s career.
“When we first started, we didn’t have seniors, so we were forced to be leaders right away,” said Brandon Allwood, Williamstown alumnus. “That’s what got us to where we are so quickly.”
Players all around the team have the mentality of being a leader, whether they are the captains or not. Players hold each other accountable and that’s a good indication as to why their team chemistry is at a high level. Coach DeCola and the founders have instilled that mentality throughout the years.
It’s quite the task to start a program from scratch and to be where they are now is really impressive. DeCola has his own philosophy and it seems to be working.
“Talent is what gets you a shot at our program, working hard is what gets you an opportunity to play, but grit is what keeps pushing our guys to be their best,” DeCola said.
This isn’t the first time coach DeCola has built a program from the bottom into a successful team. He was once head coach of East High School in Salt Lake City, Utah. When he inherited the team, they had a 1-11 record and after taking over, he led them to eight wins in thirteen games, including their first-ever trip to the state playoffs.
“I learned by talking with the coaches from the best programs in the country on how they do things and I also observed how they ran their programs and how and who they recruited,” DeCola said. “I learned so much from my time there, it was unreal.”
“I think personally, he’s one of the better recruiters out there because of the quality guys he brings into the program,” Genord said. “Coach [DeCola] has always worked really hard to do what he can with the team he has and he shows that to a lot of his recruits that Albion is going to be a good team.”
DeCola has been proving to recruits that Albion does in fact have a good thing going. The Britons are a force in the MIAA right now and are currently undefeated in conference play. One thing they haven’t accomplished in the five years is winning a conference title. This season seems like the year that it’s going to happen.
What the team has achieved in five years is five players earning first-team All-MIAA, four players on the second-team All-MIAA and many MIAA players of the week.
Hopefully they can walk away with a MIAA Championship this year and get their first ever bid into the NCAA Tournament.
Photo via GoBrits.com