As the lacrosse community knows, the Bellarmine Knights men’s lacrosse team recently lost their founding Head Coach Jack “Black Jack” McGetrick to cancer. Drew Soeder is a starting senior defensemen at BU from Hudson, Ohio. He recently chatted with me about Coach McGetrick and the state of the program.
Give me your favorite memory about Coach McGetrick.
Favorite memory is from the Jacksonville game this past season. We were down 6 and at halftime, he gave a great speech. It helped us battle back and we ended up winning the game. After dinner that night Jack called us into a conference room. He told us how we were his sons and that he had never been so proud of us. He also told us a story of how he fell off his bike during an Ironman competition. He ended up finishing that Ironman and winning his age group with a bike that was stuck in 12th gear. It was a very emotional story and night. It is something that I will never forget nor will anyone that was in that room.
A side note: Jack beat Lance Armstrong’s time in a marathon. He told me that one day after he had finished reading Lance’s book. He had a huge grin on his face. Jack was a father figure to me and I will take what he taught me with me forever.
I’m sure you hear this one every day, so you can answer it here for everyone. How is the team doing in general and how are you guys dealing with the loss of what some guys on your team have called their second father?
Well, it has been tough and a very emotional fall that’s for sure. Jack was definitely more than just a lacrosse coach, he was a second father to the team, like you said. He not only taught us how to play lacrosse but also how to be successful in life by sharing stories about the mistakes he had made. The Bellarmine lacrosse team is a family and the loss has just made us even closer. There is no need for a motivational speech this year!
How did seeing Coach McGetrick go through all of his chemotherapy treatments and not miss a day last year motivate the team and how has this situation motivated you guys this year?
There is something about watching someone get up every morning at 6 am and come out in the cold with us even though you could see the pain he was in. As we would come out of the locker room you would see him bent over in pain but as soon as we were on the field it was as if nothing was wrong with him. Coaching lacrosse was his pain medicine and we knew that. It drove us to preform better and out do the guy next to us so we could see Jack be happy. In the locker room you would look in guys’ lockers and see signs that say, “This is for Jack!” Jack had a saying that he was a (expletive) rock. Well, we all wanted to be a rock like him and as you can tell from his battle with cancer he was, by far, a rock.
What are your personal and team goals going into your senior season?
My personal goals are to become an All-American, graduate from Bellarmine, and ultimately find a job. I also have made a promise to myself that I will run a marathon for Jack. He ran Ironmans and marathons. He said that it had an impact on him that can’t be explained but needs to be experienced. Our team goal is simple. Win the National Title and no more B.S. with fiddling around in the lower rankings. Win the title and let people finally realize that Bellarmine is no joke!
Your top 5 scorers graduated in 2010. How can the team make up for that loss and who do you predict will have a breakout year?
As a coach you realize that it is a team game out there. Our offense is going for a different approach compared to years previous. We don’t have 5 go-to guys anymore, we have 54 guys that we can go to. It’s not about the man who put the ball in the net but the guys who picked up the ground ball and passed it to the guy who shot. As far as break out years, I believe guys like Craig Carson and Andrew Bulgarelli, who is our FOGO, are going to have a huge impact with this year. After all you can’t win the game without the ball.
From our middies, I think that Alex Porter, Trevor Timmerburg, Colton Clark, Karsen Leung and Teddy Avendtle will be huge pieces to our puzzle. Teams will see some good chemistry with these guys as well as other guys I didn’t mention. The attack line is going to be Austin Bright, Luke Acton, Lance Robinson, Mike Ward, and Jordan Wong all whom can finish shots.
Our defense will be our strongest point, returning everyone. Austin Powell, Ross Doan, Tyler Mattingly, Pat Ellis, Arden Brick Wipf, Matt Silvia and myself will help anchor our defense. We have 3 goalies that will all be pushing each other to strive to stop everything. It is really fun to watch the competition. Incoming Freshman Mike Bender will have a huge impact in the future but due to an injury he will not be playing this year. Cam Gardner will also be a guy to look out for in the future. There are more guys than I have mentioned, who will be impact players, but like I said before, it is all about the team. The best guy would be nothing if it weren’t for the rest of the team. Can’t win with just one guy.
Describe the experience of playing in the Bellarmine vs Louisville; men vs women battle. (Did you have one this year?)
It is a unique opportunity that we have playing with them. It is a lot of fun and it’s even better that we are playing for great causes. The Louisville team sponsors a “Friend of Jaclyn” whom we play for, not to mention playing for Jack. We all have a great time, yet it does get very competitive in the game. The women’s game is completely different. Some of the their rules are very weird with stopping at every whistle, it is like freeze tag. We struggled with this rule a lot and couldn’t really handle it. They caught us several times with fast breaks because of this. We did play this year and I am not sure of the score but I am just going to say we won.
In the end, it’s a ton of fun and it also gets us to know the U of L women’s team and them us. We both support each other by attending games when we can. It just goes to show us how close the lacrosse community is.
Many of your ex-teammates, including 3 from last year’s senior class, are in the NLL. When will the first American from BU make it to the indoor league and who should it be?
Indeed we have seen great success in the NLL. I am not sure who will be the first American from Bellarmine to play in it although I know that we have several guys from the states who have gone up North and played. I am not well versed in the details of it but I know that all the Americans who have played in it loved it. You will continue to see the flow from Bellarmine lacrosse players to the NLL with players like Dillion Ward, Karsen Leung, and Colton Clark.
You mentioned to me that you are coaching a middle school lax team. How is your squad and what has been the biggest challenge in coaching the youngins?
Yes, I am helping coach Kammerer Middle School down here in Louisville. We haven’t started practicing yet but I can tell already from watching some of the indoor league that it’s going to be a challenge to teach the discipline needed. I see a lot of stick checks on defense and not enough good body. I have gotten advice from coaches that its all about breaking the game down to its simplest form.
Do you see yourself coaching lacrosse in the future?
I do love the game and I wouldn’t mind coaching. I think that the ideal situation for me is to become an assistant coach while still working. I know that wherever I end up I will seek out a lacrosse team to see what I can help with.
You were raised in Cleveland and your parents recently relocated to the Detroit area. Explain again how you’re a Steelers fan!?
Haha, that’s a great question that I get a lot. I am Steelers fan because I was born in Pittsburgh and my parents have always rooted for them as well. It’s just one thing that my Dad wanted to make sure his kids didn’t lose through moving to Cleveland and now Detroit. I took a lot of heat being a Steelers fan in Cleveland but I always got the last laugh with 6 Superbowl rings.
Thanks Drew, and I know the lacrosse community is rooting for the Knights in 2011! Your success this year will be a direct result of the great leadership from Coach McGetrick. If it wasn’t for Stevie Johnshon’s hands this interview would have been way more fun for me!