For this installment of the Fireside Chat series we have another NCAA Division 3 chat right before Thanksgiving. This time we’re heading west to talk with Andrew Swett, a sophomore LSM for the Whittier Poets. Andrew gives the low down on life on the road, why he decided to be a Poet, and what tunes he’s currently bumping on his iPod.
LAS: Describe your pregame – what do you do to get ready for a big game?
Andrew Swett: As a team, we all listen to a play list, which has been selected by the seniors. Everyone has their own way of getting ready. A few of my teammates like to listen to their own ipod. Personally, I mess around while in the locker room and on the field for the warm ups. One of our starting defenseman doesn’t say a word the whole warm up. We all stay loose and prepare ourselves in different ways.
What team are you looking forward to playing the most this year? Why?
There are actually two teams I am looking forward to playing. I grew up in Ohio and chose to leave the state to play out west. The last two games of our season are in Ohio. We play Ohio Wesleyan University and College of Wooster, many of my good friends who I grew up playing with are on both teams. Not to mention, both of those games are must wins if we expect to make a run in the playoffs this year.
Where is your least favorite place to play a road game? Favorite?
Since I’m only a sophomore it’s difficult to answer this questions, but looking back on last season the spring trip to Baltimore was tough on a lot of guys. We stay in a hotel for seven days, playing a game every other day. It’s difficult to keep your mind off lacrosse because sometimes there is not much to do. Another struggle with the spring trip are the long bus rides to the games. You can always tell when guys “left it on the bus”. Being from the west coast we are forced to travel a lot, so you kind of get used to the bus as a second locker room.
When your team travels for road games, what is the transportation like? Lodging?
We travel in a nice, large coach bus with plenty of room, because we don’t take the whole roster on the road. On the bus, we watch movies, finish homework, listen to music, and sleep. We have a couple of traditions while on the bus. The hotels are always amazing. We have great support from our school, as well as players families and friends; without their donations we wouldn’t travel, sleep, or eat the way we do when were on the road. Staying in a nice hotel and riding in a nice bus does make a huge difference.
How do you feel your conference/Independent status levels up to the other NCAA conferences?
Being an Independent team is tough because there are more teams than normal, but the skill level, on average, is lower. I believe the top four teams in our division can play with anyone in DIII. All in all, I think we have a pretty skilled conference, with new teams coming into the conference every year.
If you had to predict the Mens’ NCAA title winners right now, who would they be?
Anything about the new stick rules: Have you adjusted to the new heads? How do you think they will affect your game/the general play of lacrosse?
I didn’t play this fall due to an ACL injury, but I have a new head all strung up. I like the new rules. From watching the guys play this fall there are definitely going to be more ground balls, which will make the game more interesting. I think this new rule change with make the game faster, more transition goals. I think this new change is for the better.
What are your personal goals for 2010? What are the team goals for 2010?
We take the season one game at a time, but our ultimate goal is to make the tournament and make a run. We have single game goals, which include 80 percent successful clears, less than five penalties, over 40 shots on cage, ect. Personally, I only have a few. As a LSM, I hope to lead the team in ground balls. I want to have at least ten points this season. Lastly, I want to make sure I have done enough rehab on my knee to make sure its back to full strength come the start of the season.
What is the team doing differently this fall/winter to achieve those goals?
We have a new full time coach in Brian Kelly. He graduated from Whittier and was a member of the team when they were nationally ranked. He has changed the overall atmosphere a lot from last season. We are much more organized, on time, and strict. He really cares about the little things. We also have a new Offensive coach, Coach Tully, from Drexel. He has also changed the atmosphere on the their side of the field. He is very strict and demanding, which is great for the guys. We also have coach James Morgan, who can coach both offence and defense, as he played both at Hostra. He keeps the team emotional and loose while provide great insight to the game. All the coaches expect the very best from us whether we are in the classroom, on the field, or in public. They hold us to a very high standard.
How close are the Whittier Poets to going to the next level nationally?
This is the year. We will make the tournament and have a run. We are a very young team, but our coaching is phenomenal and everyone has what it takes to make this a great season. If we don’t reach our goals, we can only blame ourselves.
Is there a game or road trip you are most excited about this spring?
I am most excited to play Ithaca College at home. It was one of the most fun games last year. We also have a large crowd for that game and they always come ready to play. As mentioned before I am most excited for the Ohio trip at the end of the season. Those two games can make or break out season.
How did you hear about Whittier? What interested you most about the school?
When I was playing in the Vail Shootout my junior year in high school one of my assistant coaches was the assistant coach, at the time, at Whittier. I had my mind set on an east coast school, but when things fell through I called up the coach and came out for a visit. I stayed one night and verbally committed the next day. It wasn’t the school that sold me; it was the guys on the team. My recruiting trip was unlike any I had before. This is going to sound very “Cali” but it was laid back and at a slower pace. All the guys on the team were very open and interested to meet me. I watched them practice and toured the school. I had that feeling that this was the College I was supposed to go to.
What are your 5 favorite songs right now?
What kind of stick are you using? what is the string job like? tape? shaft?
We actually just changed brands, so we are now working with Gait. I use an ICE shaft, with a Flow head, with six diamond mesh. Silver shaft, white mesh and head. It’s weird because this is the first season I can remember that I’m not using a Proton.
Who are your heroes in lacrosse? Who made you want to play in college?
Two people were very influential in my decision to play in college. The first being my middle school coach Jackie Colly. We called her the “Stick Nazi” she was very strict on learning the basics before you could move on. She passed away my senior year in high school and I owe a lot of what I have learned about lacrosse to her. The second, was my high school coach. I played at Western Reserve Academy in Hudson Ohio. We were coached by Dr. “Skip” Flanagan. He had a monumental impact on my decision to play in college. I knew I didn’t want to go to a large DI school because I didn’t want lacrosse to be my life. He was the first person to mention DIII to me. My other teammates already committed to Notre Dame, Georgetown, and Salisbury. I was feeling some pressure to go DI, but Dr. Flanagan assured me to look at DIII. So I definitely owe my decision to play in college two those two individuals.
How was fall ball for the team?
As mentioned before, I didn’t play this fall but it was interesting to watch from the sideline. It was fun seeing the new freshman come in and realize the game is much fast at the college level. The juniors from last season stepped up to become the leaders for this year. There were struggles, but all in all fall went well. The last practice of the fall we played a purple vs. gold game and the winning team at steaks after while the losing team ate hot dogs.
Favorite Pro laxer? Why?
Easily Nate Watkins. The guy brings it, year in and year out.
Are you a fan of indoor/box lacrosse? Which do you prefer?
I enjoy box lacrosse. I grew up playing ice hockey and lacrosse. When I attended my boarding school for high school I met a lot of Canadians who play box up north. They really turned me onto the game and it is the perfect mix between hockey and lacrosse. I regret not playing while growing up. I prefer field, but I can say for sure because I’ve never played box. I’ve only seen a dozen games in person.
Thanks for taking some time out of your busy sophomore year to talk to LacrosseAllStars, Andrew, and good luck to the Poets this upcoming season!
This has been another Lax All Stars Fireside Chat. Stay tuned to the LAS Network for more interviews, and see our full list here.