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 Columbia, Missouri to check in with Coach Keith Euker and the Mizzou lax program.
MCLA Fan: What are your goals for program growth this off-season? What are you doing to reach them?
Our goal for this off season was to grow our program in numbers. We ended up with only 18 players on our squad last season after injuries took their toll. Regardless of this small number we still had 8 All-Conference selections and 2 All-America nominations, so we realized that our biggest concern was not having enough guys. As a result we have been recruiting (which really began this past Spring but has carried into the summer) and have 32 recruits coming in this fall, which is the biggest class the Program has ever seen.
Where do you see your program in 5 years? How will it get there?
Our goal for the long-term is to emulate what Michigan has done. Beyond building up the Program on the field, we will be reaching out to Alumni to develop a booster club to assist with financing our growth. We want to play the top teams in the country which will require extensive travel. We will also be implementing marketing tactics to increase our awareness here at the school as well as in the community itself. Here in Missouri, a large part of increasing awareness will include educating people about the game. It’s difficult to follow a sport and become a fan if you don’t understand what is happening during play. Think of Australian Football; it’s fun to watch but you really have no idea what you’re looking at so it’s difficult to become a die-hard fan.
What are some key steps you’ve taken (or your program has taken) to promote your team on campus and create relationships with administration?
We have begun implementing a marketing plan on campus which includes heavily involving the fraternities and sororities. The Greek system is very big here at Mizzou and we feel if we can get the backing of those students, the rest of the population will follow. This marketing plan includes flyers, heavily promoting our website and keeping it up to date with new information (we get about 1,000 hits a week on our site), we will be implementing a press-room video after each game where we will show “media” asking questions to our players about the game. We will also be implementing a “Get to Know” a player each week were people can go on our website and see info on a given player such as favorite bands, food, pre-game routine, etc. We feel that if the fans feel like they KNOW our players on field they will be more enthusiastic (such as “Go Eric!!” rather than “Go number 32!”)
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?
The best first step to building a program is building a good team on field. No one really wants to come and watch their team get beaten badly. If it’s a close game, even if you lose, fans will still follow you. But if you are getting beaten by 10-15 goals people will lose interest. It’s important to advertise EVERY positive aspect of your Program. For example we went 8-7 this past season which is certainly a step up from previous years, but we have been very proud of our All-Conference selections and All-America nominations so we plug those every chance we get (much like I did in answering question #1 above). If people can see the positive steps the Program is taking and not just focus on the overall win/loss record, they will come back for more. Teams like Lindenwood, Illinois, and Indiana used to beat us by 15-20 goals. This past year we lost to each of those teams by anywhere from 1 to 2 goals, and the games were very exciting with back-and-forth scoring. That is a huge step to vocalize to fans and they have responded well verbally to me. People are excited to see what we can do this year and that is the “hook” that we needed.
OOC games are always an integral part of making it to the National Tournament. What do you look for in OOC opponents when scheduling?
This past year at Mizzou was my first year here so our OOC games were different than what they will be this upcoming year. OOC games are a great opportunity to play teams that are traditionally better than you which will allow you to learn about your mistakes, and to gauge where you have to go to hit your goals, whatever they may be. We will aim to play some of the top 20 teams in the country this year which will require us to travel, which will require financing, which will require assistance from Alumni and the Booster Club.
When recruiting, what do you tell potential recruits about your program and university? What do you have to offer?
For our recruiting we talk about how great a time it is to be a part of Mizzou’s Lacrosse Program. Since we are in a rebuilding phase which will last for a few years, right now Freshman will have opportunities to make starting positions and immediately impact our team. It’s a simple fact of what the recruit desires…to be a part of a traditionally winning powerhouse Program, or to be a part of an up-and-coming Program with all the potential in the world. When we recruit we look for attitude over talent. We feel that if a player has the right attitude we can teach them to become strong lacrosse players, but if they have all the talent in the world with a bad attitude there’s not much we we can do with them.
Thanks for the great interview Coach, good luck next season. To find out more about the Mizzou Tigers lacrosse program, check out their team website here.
If you’re interested in learning more or contributing, please feel free to contact us at [email protected].