MCLAFan.com 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, MCLAFan.com 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 Allendale, Michigan to check in with Coach Sean Blair and new Head Coach Tim Murray and the Grand Valley State University men’s lacrosse team.
MCLA Fan: What are your goals for program growth this off-season? What are you doing to reach them?
Coach Murray: Our goals for the off-season growth of the program are two-pronged. First and foremost, we are striving to improve the program’s visibility within the local lacrosse community. Our players will help conduct camps and clinics for local youth lacrosse players, and we are taking advantage of opportunities to give back to the community, both within Grand Valley State University, as well as out in the area. Secondly, we are making strides to fund-raise, which will help alleviate the overall cost that is involved in playing lacrosse at a highly competitive level.
Where do you see your program in 5 years? How will it get there?
We would like to see our program continue to put a championship-caliber team on the field annually, as well as increase our infrastructure to allow for more financial sustainability, instead of relying heavily on player dues. Our goals will be achieved by proactively engaging in fundraising opportunities throughout the year, and continuing to attract elite lacrosse talent to the GVSU campus.
What are some key steps you’ve taken (or your program has taken) to promote your team on campus and create relationships with administration?
Coach Blair: One of the steps that we’ve taken to market ourselves on campus is printing team posters with schedules on them and posting them around campus. We also sell fan gear at games and have our players wear team gear around campus. This is done to create visibility of the program and essentially works as free advertising. Our biggest marketing tool has simply been word of mouth (including Facebook and Twitter). During the spring season, there really is not a major sport occurring that draws a large fan base. Luckily we have been able to schedule competitive teams to come to our campus to play great games which often draw crowds bigger then some NCAA spring sports on campus.
Currently we are working towards building a positive relationship with our school based on open and active communication. We believe that the biggest flaw of former teams was the lack of communicating to the school what some of our needs are and working together toward accomplishing them. We’ve been fortunate enough to receive generosity from our school who has allowed us to be one of few “club” sports to utilize varsity weight room facilities in addition, use our new state of the art indoor turf facility for games and practices during winters months. The best advice I could give regarding establishing a relationship with administration is to be sure you establish a positive relationship with the athletic director, or director of student life and always communicate your needs.
Contact: 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?
Coach Murray: We are very fortunate to be working for a school that offers tremendous academic opportunities, which attracts not only great lacrosse players, but great young men who are dedicated student-athletes. I firmly believe that it is the people associated with the program that make it great. We have a support staff – including assistant coaches, managers, and so on – who are second to none, and take pride in their role for GVSU’s success on the lacrosse field.
Out of conference (OOC) games are always an integral part of making it to the National Tournament. What do you look for in OOC opponents when scheduling?
Scheduling OOC opponents is a difficult aspect for GVSU, because the conference commitment is so large during the regular season. We are always looking to improve our strength of schedule, while balancing travel costs. We take a lacrosse player’s classroom commitment seriously at GVSU as well, and do not want to schedule games where travel will interfere with a player’s educational opportunities.
When recruiting, what do you tell potential recruits about your program and university? What do you have to offer?
I am able to take a very straightforward approach, because the school and the lacrosse program really sell themselves. It is a matter of finding the right fit for the student-athletes. Grand Valley is a great academic institution, and we put a quality product on the field. Any high school players who are interested in furthering their education at a quality school, and would like the opportunity to compete for a lacrosse national championship while doing so, will inherently be attracted to what GVSU offers. After that, it is a matter of getting to know the potential recruits on a personal level, and ensuring they would be a good fit not only for the lacrosse program, but the scholastic community at Grand Valley State University.
Thanks for the great interview Coaches, good luck this season. To find out more about the Lakers’ lax program, head over to their team website here.
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