After years of club play, Albion’s lacrosse club is now a varsity sport. Jake DeCola, head coach of the men’s team, is confident and excited about the inaugural season, which will kick off this spring.
“We talk to our guys daily about the importance of what we are building here at Albion,” DeCola said. “The MIAA is the oldest athletic conference in the country, and Albion has many storied programs, national championships and All-Americans. We want to match those successes.”
The men’s team currently consists of 16 players —10 first-years, four sophomores and two juniors—all of whom have played lacrosse previously for high school teams, travel teams and Albion’s former club.
“Our lack of numbers has had an impact on what we can run in practice daily,” DeCola said. “Lacrosse is very demanding physically and mentally, and it is tough to teach all of the things we want our players to know…it forces us to do a lot of skeleton work.”
The women’s team is small but also comprised of experienced players.
“We typically practice three times a week if everyone’s schedule allows it,” said Liz Gans, Tampa, Fla., first-year. “It’s hard to get enough girls at practice with all of us on different schedules.”
The lacrosse teams will be members of the Midwest Lacrosse Conference, and will have the opportunity to compete for a spot in the 2012 NCAA tournament. The first couple of seasons will focus on building the program with that tournament in mind.
“We are extremely young (as a team) and eager to improve and win games,” said Mitch Loney, Commerce first-year. “We don’t have any seniors on the roster; therefore it is our responsibility to make smart decisions not only for ourselves, but for our teammates as well.”
With their youth in mind, the teams are focusing on building chemistry between players and the physical conditioning required for success.
“Last year we never conditioned and we had trouble running our plays during the game,” said Kayla Baker, Miami, Fla., junior. “I think our weaknesses are improvable and can be turned into real strengths…I think the girls that come out for the team this year will be ready to improve their skills and build a great team.”
With fall practices from September to mid-October completed, the teams are now anxiously awaiting the start of their spring season.
“I am most excited about starting a tradition here at Albion,” Loney said. “Our team has a great opportunity to start a program from the ground up. What we do as a team for the next four years will build the foundation for other Albion lacrosse players in the future.”
Lacrosse takes the field following winter break with a game on Feb. 13 against Carthage.