Editor’s note: With Fall Ball about to begin at colleges all across the US, we recently posed a simple question to a few veteran LAS writers – What was your college lacrosse experience like in the Fall?
Fall Lax Life at Wesleyan University (2000-2004)
The NESCAC does not allow for out of season practices for their athletic teams, so Wesleyan lacrosse didn’t officially begin each year until February 15th. That being said, we still held captain’s practices in the fall, and this set up made for a truly great college experience. We would go out to a grass field at around 4pm, 3 days a week, for about 6-10 weeks, and just play. Our warm up consisted of putting our pads on and stretching at our leisure. Eventually, one of the captains would divide everyone up into two teams, and then we’d play lacrosse for an hour and a half to two hours. Freshman vs Upperclassmen, North vs. South, East vs. West, NY & MD vs everyone else, New England vs everyone else… we found ways to keep it fun and competitive. And since no one was telling us to be there, it pretty much had to be fun.
It wasn’t anywhere close to mandatory. Some guys wouldn’t show up because of classes, or they were sick, or they just didn’t feel like coming. Some guys would come watch because they were hurt, or “hurt”, and some guys wouldn’t even bother to show up at all during the fall. But it didn’t matter, because the guys who were there wanted to be there, and after all, we just playing some lax. On the other days, we did a little team conditioning here and there. Just like fall ball it was totally optional, but a lot of guys showed up anyway. But most of the time it was on us as individuals to get in the gym, train, run and practice our skills. There was never anyone (other than each other) telling us to do it. We just did it because we loved it.
The pressure was there to show up, and get better, but it was ALL self-applied pressure, and as a real-life learning experience, captains’ practices in place out of season practices run by coaches made for the perfect balance for the vast majority of the team.
This allowed me to get the full college experience even though I was playing competitive lacrosse. It allowed me to try out (and somehow make) the football team at Wesleyan as a Senior. It allowed me to take trips and visit friends at other schools and concentrate on my classes and my maturation process, which needed a lot of work. It allowed me to CHOOSE to be a lacrosse player, and I simply wouldn’t trade it for any other college lacrosse set-up in the world, even if we had to buy a lot of our own gear.
Fall Lax Life at the University of Oregon (2003-2007)
by Ryan Craven
Because Oregon lacrosse is Virtual Varsity, fall practices were mandatory and consisted of tryouts, fall tournaments, and team workouts. Tryouts for the Ducks lacrosse team grew larger every year as the team became more well known around the NW eventually growing to a point where 60+ students were trying out for less than 10-20 spots. As the team grew so did the commitment to the organizational side of things. This ended up with the team trying a new uniform combination every year, ranging from football-ish white jerseys to “lightning” yellow threads that turned out an ugly shade of goldenrod. (Take THAT allegations that Oregon should try to mimic the football team with cool uniforms).
Field space during the fall is at a premium due to the other Rec Sports that shared the field so practice times were generally late at night. At least one year we were routinely ending practice at 10pm at night. A huge benefit of fall practices and workouts was the access to the Moshofsky Center aka the football teams’ weight room. Spending time working out in the vicinity of 340 lb monsters like Haloti Ngata while he squats enough 45′s to bend the bar like a paperclip is slightly intimidating, but incredible.
The occasional workout inside Autzen stadium to run stairs is another benefit of fall ball since the Ducks football team is the main source of off-the-field bonding for most of the lacrosse team. Piling into the stadium 6 hours early to get a good spot in the student section or going a sleepless night while you wait for the GameDay crew to tape live in the pre-dawn morning…those are great team building exercises.
The lacrosse games that count may not start until the spring but fall ball is serious business for MCLA schools trying to compete at the highest level. Thankfully Saturday afternoons are a welcome relief when 55 thousand screaming fans take over your college town.
Fall Lax Life at the University of Idaho (2009-2011)
by Krieg Shaw
Since I transferred from Boise Junior College after the Fall of 2008 season, I wasn’t able to play fall ball with the Vandals until 2009. But in the two years I played and last year when I coached, it was a great experience for me and my lacrosse career. Fall ball at an MCLA school is actually pretty serious. Coaches organize as much practice time as possible in order to knock all the rust off and prepare all the guys for the season. Personally it was the best time for me to work outside of practice as hard as I wanted without worry of being tired for a game or important practice. And when we aren’t getting ready for the season, we always enjoy a little tailgating and football next door at the Kibbie Dome.
At Idaho, we are able to play under the lights on the Sprinturf. It is a great artificial turf field that holds practices for pretty much every varsity sport in need of a field as well as a lot of local high school and club sports teams. Oddly enough though, during the fall, practice times are pretty easy to come by and we are able to practice 3 nights a week with plenty of open field time for practicing on our own – and we do A LOT of that. Any unscheduled time on the field is free for the taking and all the guys on the team take full advantage of field time for shooting, footwork drills and the occasional pick-up game with the team.
Each fall, we play in two main tournaments, the Griz Lax Shootout in Missoula, Montana and the Gem State Tournament in Boise, Idaho. In the three years I’ve been at Idaho, we haven’t won either tournament, we’ve gotten second place though… every year, losing to Montana, UVU and a men’s team from Canada. The frustrating part is that they have all been very close games. This year though, I know Coach Andrysiak is priming the guys up for a big showing at both tournaments.
If you want to hear a little more, check back at my Vandal Shots Blog from my senior season. And as always, Go Vandals!
Fall Lax Life at the University of Michigan
Here’s a recent one – “Pre-Gaming with Pat: Western Michigan”
Fall Lax Life at YOUR SCHOOL
Now it’s your turn, LAS readers! Tell us about Fall Lax Life on your campus. Is it different than what’s described above? Even better? We want to hear about your experience!!!