Welcome to ‘The Coug Nation’ , senior Eric Zacharias from the Claremont Cougars will be joining MCLA Fan this spring for a season-long look into Claremont’s lacrosse team. Look forward to great stuff out of Southern Cal all season.
Eric Zacharias (#14) is a Senior Defender and Team President for the Claremont Cougars. Originally from San Diego, playing lacrosse four years at La Jolla High School, Eric is now a dual major in Economics and Math at Claremont McKenna College.In his free time Eric is an unabashed Claremont Cougar and San Diego Chargers/Padres homer.
While preseason practices tend to not have much news worthy to report, the last few weeks for the Claremont Cougars have seen some exciting developments:
First, the Cougs have brought in Tim Pendergast as a new assistant coach. Coach Pendergast was the 1983 1st team All-Ivy and NCAA DI Honorable Mention All-American Goalie while playing at Harvard. Coach Pendergast has been working with our goalies, but has also brought a new set of eyes to our offense and defense which is already paying dividends. Many of us are not completely unfamiliar with Coach Pendergast as he has officiated many of our games in the SLC and Southern California in general over the past few seasons. We are excited to have him on our staff and learn from him as the season progresses.
Second, we got a bit of exciting news from the athletic departments and club sports directors at the colleges as they have elevated our team (along with the schools’ rugby team) to Club-Varsity. While in practicality this means nothing, it is a sign that the success we have had and the crowds we have generated over the past few seasons has been noticed. The promotion means a greater effort on the administration’s side to provide facilities whenever needed and increase funding in the future. We have seen the immediate effects as we are now allowed access to the soccer field for night practices on Wednesdays to complement our Tuesday-Friday afternoon practices.
Finally, and probably the most exciting part of preseason practices as a player is practice gear and gloves are in. We went with white/red shorts and shooters this year which turned out great (shorts with pockets are always a plus). Sweats and gloves turned out nice as well thanks to Breakaway Sports out of Denver. Being personally responsible for the practice gear and gloves this year, I was very happy with how easy Breakaway Sports made the process of finding the right gear at the lowest price that looks good. More exciting news is that Coug alum Dylan Sheridan (LAS contributor and assistant at Denver assistant coach) is working on a Boathouse team store for us, excited for that to come through sooner than later.
Ok, on to the practices. While teams in the Midwest and East Coast are dealing with snow storms we are left to deal with 85 degree afternoons in LA. Three a days were grueling in the heat but everyone was up to the challenge and battled from start to finish. I think our team is coming into the season with a chip on our shoulder in response to some of the low expectations others have for us this season. The Cougs also welcome a very large freshman class again this season, many of whom will contribute right away on offense as well as 5 freshmen LSMs looking to fill Max Sanford’s roll between the boxes. Practices have been high energy and gotten chippy and physical at times which is a good sign as that is the attitude we are looking to take into games this year.
We are chomping at the bit to start the season this Saturday at home against Biola. We have kicked off the season the past four seasons against Biola which is always a good game. Biola is one of the hardest working teams in the MCLA DI or DII and tough competitors improving each season. It is a great way to see where we stand and expose our rooks to MCLA ball.