Growing The Program: Willamette University

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.

Our first interview is with Coach Will Patton from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon.

Willamette head coach Will PattonCoach Will Patton

Willamette is a small Liberal Arts school with an enrollment of 1,800 students. But even with small numbers, they field a full 25 man roster and played 17 games this past season. Will has been head coach of the Bearcats for the past 3 seasons and was named PNCLL Div 2 Coach of the Year in 2008.

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

Will Patton: Looking to expand the coaching staff. We are looking to hire new coaches as we finally have money to pay them. We are reaching out to a variety of contacts to fill the positions.

Willamette lacrosse

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

In 5 years we want to be in the picture nationally for PNCLL D2. We have been scheduling well, and the talent has started coming in (damn those injuries though!). A side goal is to develop a lacrosse endowment fund to begin building towards our goal of becoming varsity with our university. This goal is lofty and ambitious. It will take time, but we are developing those relationships currently to make varsity a reality.

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

Our team was a founding member (and the driving force) of our University’s Sports Club Council. Our university is a smaller liberal arts school and is somewhat behind in the maturation cycle around club sports relative to an Arizona State or a CU Boulder among others. Our team is the first to deal with many problems, e.g. trainers for home games, hiring and paying a coach, flying out of state, etc. We have laid the groundwork and protocols for other sport clubs. There have been growing pains, but we are earning many brownie points for advancing the sports club cause.

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?

My biggest advice is to ally with other sport clubs. It is annoying to rub elbows with frisbee hippies, rugby meatheads, and all the other riff-raff. But trust me, they view us the same way because let’s face it, we’re not on top the varsity mountain yet. We are all equals in the sports club community, and to view it otherwise is divisive and counter-productive. Becoming allies and friends with the other sport club leaders (and student government leaders!) has been absolutely crucial to our club’s growth and advancement.

Willamette lacrosse

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

1) Coaches who return voicemails/emails. You would be SHOCKED at how many coaches don’t do that simple task. You would also be disappointed at the amount of outdated and inaccurate info on who the current coach is.
2) Teams that are willing to return the home game favor. We don’t mind traveling to them, we just want them to come back to us, it’s only fair. Not reciprocating OOC games is very bad juju for your program.
3) High quality opponents. We don’t want creampuffs (look at WU’s OOC schedule from 2010, we didn’t hide from anyone). We want to play the best to become the best. We took our lumps this season, but the experience is crucial.

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

Willamette University’s biggest sell is the academics. Really, if it’s a kid who isn’t interested in a small-school liberal arts education, then they have many better choices in Oregon and beyond. Our biggest struggle is competing with the public universities when it comes to in-state talent. We are trying to address our name and get it out there, but we are often overshadowed by the U of Oregon‘s of the world. Unfortunately, we don’t have anything to offer financially being DIII and non-varsity at that.

Thanks to Will Patton for the interview. Good luck next season! If you are interested in finding out more about Willamette’s program, check out their website here.

If you’re interested in learning more or contributing, please feel free to contact us at