Appalachian State is an MCLA D2 program out of the SELC. First year Head Coach Blaine Patrick was kind enough to drop us a line on the eve of his team’s first game, tonight vs Indiana Tech, down in Atlanta, Georgia.
It is the night before the start of the 2011 season for the Appalachian State lacrosse team, and my first game as a head coach in the MCLA. We wrapped our final practice tonight shortly after 8pm, with the temperature dropping below 30 as we turned off the lights on the beautiful turf lacrosse field of the local Watauga High School. While the below freezing temperature was not a surprise, our newly secured access to such a wonderful facility has been the biggest surprise of the pre-season. One of my largest concerns entering the spring season was our access (or lack of access) to quality facilities to prepare my team amidst the almost weekly blizzard-like conditions here in Boone, NC.
The month of January started with an administrative ban of lacrosse sticks, equipment, and eventually, even the throwing of footballs within two of the three facilities the school provides for it’s club sports teams. We spent two weeks getting in shape and attempting to creatively simulate the game of lacrosse without actually being able to play. I began to get nervous as the team grew restless with the lacrosse-less lacrosse practices. At the end of our second week, we caught our first break with a shared two hour practice slot in the indoor football practice facility. With little over two weeks until our game with Indiana Tech, my team suited up in full gear, and all 47 of my guys got after it on the 35 yard half of the beautiful indoor facility. While this was a great boost for the team, our biggest break came the following week. My president was able to broker a deal with Watauga High school, who is in it’s third year with a lacrosse program. Our program agreed to buy the school one new collegiate goal and a set of new game nets in return for access to their one-year-old full time lacrosse turf with stadium lighting. What a deal for both teams!
We have gotten five good practices on the turf, including a last minute scrimmage against NCAA DII Lee’s McRae on a a bitter cold, 30+ MPH windy night two days ago. The scrimmage gave my defense a true test and a lot of practice, as we worked through some sloppy play, frozen fingers, and some indecision in the clearing game. I have always been a fan of playing the toughest competition possible to prepare a team for adversity.
The opening weekend to every season is always filled with excitement, jitters, high expectations, and a fire to put all of the hard work from the fall and pre-season to the test. We have an opportunity to start our season Friday night in Atlanta with a very tough out-of-conference opponent in Indiana Tech, and again on Sunday with the SELC rising power in Palm Beach Atlantic. I have so much respect for the MCLA as a former player and tournament staff member, and I finally get to take the sideline at the helm of an Appalachian State lacrosse program that is ready to do the work necessary to earn our respect and place in the league.
Friday night’s game is fast approaching, and I will sleep confident in the work my team and I have done, the hotness of our gear we will take the field in, and the continued dedication of the men in our program to be successful now and in the future. I left my players with a quote about success… “It is not in the effort, but in the achievement. Showing up is not enough”. Blow the whistle, and lets play…It’s lax season, baby!