Growing The Program: Centenary College of Louisiana

SHARE is proud to introduce Growing The Program, a summer content series presented by Maverik Lacrosse.

As we all know, the MCLA is growing and gaining more and more exposure each year. To help fuel the momentum, is conducting interviews with each and every coach in the MCLA about growing their program. We hope to create a valuable resource for current MCLA teams, new programs and potential recruits. We’re proud to have Maverik Lacrosse and Bigfoot Lacrosse on board to support this movement.

Next we head to Shreveport, Louisiana to check in with Coach Michael Brand and the Centenary College Men’s lacrosse program.

Centenary College lacrosse

MCLA Fan: What are your goals for program growth this off-season? What are you doing to reach them?

Coach Brand: We are in the process of elevating our program from MCLA D2 to NCAA D3 so all of our eggs are in that basket.  Personally I have been investigating the pros/cons of this transition and what it will take to get there.  I have consulted the Athletic Director, Head of Admissions, and some boosters about how to get there.  Also, to recruit student-athletes, I was a counselor at some of the best camps in the country this summer including both sessions of Blue Chip 225, Lars Tiffany 300, Texas Top 99 and Blue Jay Camp held at Johns Hopkins University.  Lastly I took a team of high school players to the FIL World Championships in Manchester England.

Where do you see your program in 5 years? How will it get there?

In 5 years the Centenary Gentlemen will be a NCAA D3 program competing in the SCAC conference and competing for an AQ to the NCAA tournament.  Besides the aforementioned steps I have taken this summer, it will take a lot of hard work.  As more varsity teams are popping up around the country, the competition for recruiting also expands.  Getting on the road in the summer is key, and I very used to travelling the country recruiting fine young men.

What are some key steps you’ve taken (or your program has taken) to promote your team on campus and create relationships with administration?

Luckily my situation is on the high end for MCLA clubs and the support they get.  I report directly to the Athletic Director so I have the same resources as our D1 NCAA teams.  Secondly, Centenary is the smallest school in the MCLA so our campus is a very tight knit group.   Also, being a club sport amongst D1 scholarship sports, my guys are more visible on campus with their peers.  When I arrived and saw the involvement my players had with their respective fraternities, I wanted that commitment to the lacrosse club.  That being said I have 4 former or current frat presidents representing the 4 frats we have.  That being said, the students involved in Greek life have been our best supporters.  From buying t-shirts, to lining our sidelines with couches, to tastefully heckling our opponents, my opinion on Greek life has completely changed.  As for our administration, our relationships are great.   Dr. Chris Martin, our business school dean ran the club before I arrived, Dave Voskuil our new VP of Enrollment is very pro athletics and has been my greatest asset to get our program to the next level, and our new President, Dr. David Rowe, played club lacrosse at Southwestern in Georgetown TX.

Maverik Lacrosse: Growing the ProgramContact: Drew Adams, Maverik Lacrosse

What has been the most important part of your program’s success so far? Do you have any advice for other coaches (or team presidents) who are working to build a better program?

I think the most important part of our success has been our ability to balance competitiveness and fun.  It can be frustrating at times but at the end of the day I have to remind myself why these certain young men play the game.  As anyone who knows me knows, I love to have fun, but I also love to win.  It’s hard to keep that balance and it’s something I still work on.  I think if you look at programs like Dayton who have upwards of 70 guys on their team, it’s about creating a family almost frat-like atmosphere within the club.  When it becomes cool to be on the club, the fun and competitiveness grows exponentially.  To achieve that, it is essential that in those first years to create a great atmosphere.  Do your players look forward to practice and games?  That’s a question you must ask yourself as a coach.  Of course not every guy will enjoy every minute, but if they can look back on their college career with a smile then your job is done.

OOC games are always an integral part of making it to the National Tournament. What do you look for in OOC opponents when scheduling?

Even though we have great support, we still have to look at our budget before we schedule out of town trips.  Proximity is our main factor and last year we went up to Harding in Arkansas.  This year we may play some new D3 programs and maybe plan a long road trip.  Considering the strength of our conference, OOC games probably won’t get us in the tourney so they are basically set up for the experience.

When recruiting, what do you tell potential recruits about your program and university? What do you have to offer?

Considering our schools stellar academic reputation, that is the first bullet point when talking to any recruit.  Academics comes first within our program, and last semester we had 2 Academic All-Americans, 3 4.0 GPA’s and two graduated seniors who are now in medical school.  On the social side, like I mentioned previously, Centenary is a small liberal arts school and we don’t hide this fact.  We are a small community with a great student to teacher ratio.  From what I can gather from my players, they love going to school here.  They are not lost in the crowd when it comes to school or social activities.  Finally on the lacrosse side, it is easy to see what we’re about and where we have come from.  We are a young program where new players have the opportunity to get on the field and get valuable playing time right away.  Also, with the support mentioned above the sky is the limit for Gents lacrosse.  With the young men I have interacted with at the camps I have worked this summer, they know my style and it is one where they can achieve goals in the classroom and on the field while also just having a great time doing it.

Thanks for the interview Coach, good luck next season. To find out more about the Gents lax program, head over to their team website here.
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