Growing The Program: Appalachian State University

MCLAFan.com 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, MCLAFan.com 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.
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Next we head to Boone, North Carolina, home of the Appalachian State Mountaineers. We checked in with Team President Matthew Youngblood to find out more about their lacrosse team.

Appalachian State lacrosse

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

Matthew Youngblood: Our off-season goals were ambitious but we got them knocked out. First, we needed a new coach. We put an ad up on laxpower.com and a few other sites and we were amazed in the response we got. I think one thing that helped was that we had our coaches, Robbie Simpson and Brandon Wilkerson (ASU alums that graduated in ’09), step in first as primarily volunteers. They did an amazing job, they’re great leaders and they love ASU lacrosse as much as anyone. Since they showed people that our team wants to compete and win as a respectable team, it really helped us get the attention of quality coaches. We are super excited to have Blaine Patrick join us! He played for the Florida Gators from 2003-2007 and actually helps out at the MCLA tournament. He had some great recommendations and I think he’s a perfect fit for our team.

Second, we wanted to be more organized for the fall. My fellow officers are great at what they do. We have conference calls and we talk pretty regularly about what we need to do so that we’re going to hit the ground running. Another important thing is to make sure that we’re ready for surprises. I talk to the treasurer about having enough money to get vans for long travel games and renting turf fields when we get hit with snow that keeps us off of our practice field for two months in the spring.

Finally, we are doing a better job of communicating with incoming freshman and guys interested in the team. If they take the time to send me an email then I will make sure they get a response. We want guys who love the game and are willing to juggle some of the unique challenges that come with playing MCLA lacrosse.

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

Five years from now we better be on the cover of the MCLA mag! Seriously though, I hope that the effort the team and leaders have made in the previous years will result in smoother operation and a higher caliber team. I hope that five years from now, the team is able to overcome some of the issues we face with limited field access and practice times. I’d like to see App State vs. St. Thomas or App State vs. Florida State. Those match ups will come from us improving on the field and proving that we are a team that plays with class and is generally a model for other teams. One idea I have toyed with is for us to make a move up to Division 1 when a team like FSU or Virginia Tech has a NCAA varsity program and is no longer in the MCLA, but first we need to focus on competing in Division 2. The big reason for me wanting the move is because Appalachian State is 18,000 students and growing.

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

Our way of reaching the administration has been strength in numbers. Appalachian State has some great club teams. Our cycling team has a ton of national champions every year and our rugby team brings home some massive trophies. Every club sports meeting, you’ll hear that club baseball won their conference or that the Volleyball team won another tournament. There is certainly pressure on us to compete and we like to work with other teams as much as possible to get things taken care of. If we need an extra practice before a game, we can call up another club and a lot of times they will help us out and we like to help as much as we can. Last year, our women’s lacrosse team almost had to cancel their only home game of the spring but we were able to help them get the game played at the local high school. With all of the club sports united, we have really had success in being heard by upper administration. Our university’s chancellor made an appearance at one of our games last year and we’re making a point to get him to more!
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Maverik Lacrosse: Growing the ProgramContact: Drew Adams, Maverik Lacrosse

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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?

The most important part of our success is that we only want positive attitudes and hard work ethics on our team. My personal belief is that strong attitudes, positive or negative, are contagious and leaders have the role of making sure that everyone on the team plays as a team. A lot of guys come out to early fall practices with the attitude that “It’s club ball, why practice hard?”. I say to them “If you’re competing, why not compete to win?”. We added an attendance policy and that got more guys to practice which made it more productive and more fun. We really didn’t have to chase after guys because everyone loved coming to practice.

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

A big part of our scheduling is playing unique teams that are going to make us better as team. We want to play top ranked teams and we want to make sure that once we get into SELC games we’re ready for anything. In late-February and early March, we’ve still got a lot of snow in Boone, so that time of year you won’t have to twist our arms to play at the beach!

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

We tell recruits that they can play competitive lacrosse at a wonderful university. Being in the MCLA, players have an active role in running the team so that we can make it the team we want. I tell recruits they have a say in who we play, what we wear, who our coach is, and so many other things that are extremely important to recruits who are making one of the most important decisions of their lives. I also remind them that we shed a lot of blood sweat and tears to be the best team we can be and they will be a much better player when they graduate from ASU.

Thanks for the interview Matt, good luck next season. To find out more about the Mountaineers lax team, head over to their team website here.
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If you’re interested in learning more or contributing, please feel free to contact us at info@lacrosseallstars.com.

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