Wisconsin Lacrosse Prepares for the Season
Recently we came across this video featured below of the gents from Wisconsin getting some indoor practices in. We wanted to learn more though so we reached out to Head Coach Jaron Klopstein to find out more. Check out the interview below.
MCLA Fan: Being in the Midwest definitely presents many hardships in practicing outside through the winter months. Based off of the video, you have found a way around this. How has being able to practice indoor helped your game and preparation for the season?
Coach Klopstein: If we weren’t able to practice inside, we simply would not be able to practice at all. As I write this, there is a blizzard warning in effect and simply walking outside could drive you insane. We practice 3-4 days a week indoors. Although this is not as ideal as going M-F, we are appreciative of what we can get. Because we are somewhat limited in the number of practices, and with games rapidly approaching, we have to put a lot of curriculum in every practice.
Also, is that your only venue to practice at right now or do you have the option to practice elsewhere?
The school also allows us to use the McClain Center, the indoor football facility on campus, but usually no more then once a week. That facility is more ideal, simply because it is much larger. In the video you referenced, we practice on an indoor soccer field, so we have to be a little creative in our practice planning.
We certainly try to be as creative as possible with our practice planning efforts. Sometimes we look at other sports, but for the most part, we create a good majority of our drills. We like to see the reps we get in practice be nuances of what we are trying to accomplish in a game, so rather then plucking an erroneous drill off the internet, we get together and put drills together that complement what our learning points are for any day. This way, when we have possession of the ball in overtime, our attackmen has already had 200 reps as a hinge player and wastes no time taking the ball from the strong side of the field to the weak side. We also like to give some days “themes” for lack of a better word. Competition Day, for example, is exactly what it sounds like – everything we do in practice is a competition. We split the guys into two teams, red and white, and they square off in every drill we do in practice for points. Ideally we can send out the rosters a few days in advance so they can start getting into the right mindset ahead of time. Although this is only one example, there are numerous ways of giving your practice a “theme” so your practicing in a beneficial way.
Last year was Wisconsin’s first year in the MCLA and it was a pretty successful year, going 10-4 and making it to the Championship game of the GRLC playoffs. How do you guys hope to build off of last season?
Last year’s team did a great job living up to the expectations people had set for us, but not until the end of the season. We hope to come out firing from the first whistle of our first game. We have been very clear with our guys since the coaching staffs first meeting with the players, the goal is Denver, nothing less. As a player on last year’s Wisconsin team, I had to experience falling short of the MCLA Tournament by 4 goals less then 24 hours after knocking off Lindenwood in the semi-finals, and that was an awful roller coaster ride I don’t want our guys to experience this year, and the team is absolutely buying in. We have more focus, energy and commitment then this program has ever had, and the skill to complement it.
Wisconsin also has a very interesting situation with their teams. How many different teams do you guys actually have?
Four. We field an MCLA team, an NCLL team, and two teams that compete in the GLLL.
If at all, how does the multiple teams factor into coaching, recruiting and which players play on which teams?
It factors a great deal. For one, it really lets us know that no one on our roster is there for the wrong reasons. If any of our players are unhappy, not enjoying the commitment of playing MCLA, or anything else, they can simply play for another team. It makes our job a lot easier because everyone is 100% committed to our goals as a program. From a recruiting perspective, things get very interesting. The four teams try not too compete with each other for recruits, but for the most part, they don’t have to. Kids tend to end up where they feel most comfortable, so its not uncommon to see us gain a few players during or after fall ball, and lose a few as well. The NCLL teams and GLLL teams have some quality players, some that I would really enjoy being a part of my program, but our guys are extremely passionate about the sport, and our MCLA team is likely the most competitive of the teams on campus.
Which game do you most look forward to this year and why?
Illinois is by far the most exciting game on our schedule. After topping us twice last year, once by one in the regular season, and another time in the GRLC Championship, our guys are hungry for that game. Illinois and Wisconsin were preseason ranked #1 and #2 in the coaches poll, so I think the expectation is for that to be one of, if not the signature game of the regular season. Additionally, the game is at home, and its always fun to host a fellow Big10 program.
I noticed on the Team’s website that you all have a scheduled trip to New Orleans for the Mardi Gras Lacrosse Tournament at the end of February. How many games will you guys be playing? Against who? How will this help prepare your team for the season?
That tournament is not specific to the MCLA team. Badger players have been attending that tournament for years and its always a hodgepodge of MCLA, NCLL, GLLL, and alumni that come together for the tournament. It’s a great way to remind everyone that despite having so many teams, we are all one program.
What is the program’s biggest strength?
I would have to say depth. Last year we only felt comfortable running a few midfield lines and one line of attack, this year, we were blessed to bring in an enormous amount of transfers and freshman. We have at least five attackmen who can be plucked onto the field without us suffering skill wise and I have so many quality midfielders I don’t even know what to do with all of them. We have been able to fill holes in a lot of the programs glaring weak spots from last year. The amount of skilled players has allowed the coaching staff a lot of freedom and creativity with the systems we put in place and that makes our jobs a lot more enjoyable. We can give our guys very high level systems that we may not have been able to use last year. The increase in depth, has complemented every other aspect of our team.
You guys have the opportunity to play 8 of your 12 games at home this year, giving you a nice run of home games throughout the season. How much support does the team get among students and the school?
We officially operate under the division of Rec Sports and we get a solid amount of support from them. They tend to be most helpful from an administrative perspective, helping out with paperwork, making sure all of our forms are accurate, helping coordinate travel, etc. The students are fantastic. Being somewhat of a destination school, our student population comes from pretty much everywhere in the country, so we have a lot of students that are extremely familiar with the sport. At the beginning of fall we sold practice reversibles that said “Wisconsin Lacrosse” with the traditional crossed sticks. At last count we have received over 1000 requests for them. Not only is it awesome to know that many people enjoy lacrosse, but its great to see that many people around campus supporting the team.
Thanks so much for the interview Coach, can’t wait to see how you guys do this year, good luck!
Check out some more links from the Badger State.
Lacrosse has been at UW-Madison since 1974, did you know that?