Editor’s note: Nick Widmer gives us a first person account of life as an MCLA player. A keeper in his own right, he calls Oregon State University his home and provides lacrosse content specific to the MCLA and the growth of the game. The Beavers are an MCLA Division 1 team and compete in the Pacific Northwest Collegiate Lacrosse League. He will be contributing weekly discussions, photos, and videos.
It’s that time of year again at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon. The town’s population doubles as the students return to a city formed around an academic institution. This Monday marked the beginning to the fall term everyone tried to avoid as summer memories begin to fade. Long hikes and bike rides are giving way to lecture halls and lab coats.
The one thing that can get a lacrosse player through all of this school is knowing that lacrosse practice is on its way. The Oregon State Lacrosse team holds its first practice a week after class begins and ushers in its newest talent for the fall season. Many people may ask, “Isn’t that a club sport?” The answer is a simple one, “Yes, but that doesn’t mean we treat it as such.”
The MCLA is a league defined by underdogs. Teams that feel like they have something to prove. Even the best MCLA program could never dream of competing against the top tier NCAA Division 1 teams. This league is for the player that wasn’t that great until he became a junior or senior in high school, and no NCAA team even gave him a shot. It’s for the player that went to a high school in a non-traditional area. It’s a shot for those of us who love the game more than life to find out what makes a team tick, and what goes on behind the scenes to make it all happen. An MCLA player might not have the scholarship, the trainers, the stadium, 4 pairs of cleats, 9 sticks, and 8 different outfits, but we do have the same love of the game those D1 athletes do. Here in the MCLA, we’re underdogs.
Oregon is a small blip on the overall lacrosse world. Yes, the University of Oregon routinely cranks out good seasons in the MCLA, and there are players from this state represented on D1 teams such as; Denver, Syracuse, Colgate, Jacksonville, Towson, Hartford, and Drexel among others. There are also Oregon players littering the DII and DIII landscape. We even have a Tewaaraton winner in Peter Baum. That last statistic might add a little more credibility when telling someone on the East Coast where you play, but on the whole we are disrespected. Not just Oregon, but the whole West Coast. Many of our players could have easily found there way into several ranked DII and DIII programs, but chose to stay close to home and join their schools club team.
Club ball has never been as good as these past few years. The MCLA in general is growing and the talent level rises every year. It might not be as sexy as D1, but it gives a chance for every talented player to show what they got. Some MCLA teams are coming closer than others to providing an NCAA feel to their clubs. Providing custom helmets, clothing, equipment, and excellent coaching.
As an MCLA player, I play for the love for the game. I don’t receive the bells and whistles, but I don’t need it. I come out to play for the sole reason that the opportunity has been given to me. I love playing for my team because they have shown me an unfiltered view of the game. No glitz, no glam, no big stars, it’s just team lacrosse at its finest. I play in the MCLA because it provides me with an opportunity to play great lacrosse with great people and work within a great community.