For this installment of the Fireside Chat series, LAS is talking some sweet, sweet lax with Connor Burgasser, a senior LSM for the perennial national powerhouse Salisbury University (MD) SeaGulls. Burgasser gives us a peek inside a top tier program and fills us in on how the Gulls DO.
LAS: Who are some of your teammates we should watch out for this year?
Connor Burgasser: I have never been a part of group of players so excited and prepared to play than the seniors this year. Von Kamecke (VK) is quarterbacking the offense, Winter is finishing everything, Delillo is a monster force, Breeding is picking up every ground-ball, Poletis is transitioning the ball like I have never seen out of a D-middie, and I don’t think Finch lost a face off all fall. I would not be surprised if a ton of the underclassmen jump into national spotlight this year.
Describe your pregame – what do you do to get ready for a big game?
We all get to the locker room about an hour before we are supposed to be there, just to hang out and be bros. DeLillo loves to flex and be shirtless, while the rest of us jam out to some songs led by DJ Shawn Zordani. Personally all I need is a red bull, snickers, and some country and I am ready to go.
What team are you looking forward to playing the most this year? Why?
Honestly, I think we are looking forward to every game because by our standards, and the standards of Salisbury Lacrosse, we underachieved last year, so we have a lot to prove to ourselves and the rest of the country.
Where is your least favorite place to play a road game? favorite?
Stevenson and Gettysburg have some pretty loyal and wild fans that try to get in your head which makes it tough to play, but on the plus side you get so jacked up when you get in that kind of atmosphere so it is also better.
When your team travels for road games, what is the transportation like? Lodging?
Our athletic trainer, Moe, is the best. It is like having a mom on the road. She sets us up with a nice bus, great hotels to sleep at, and tons of food for the bus ride, but she could work on not putting tomatoes on all of the subs. Pumping Iron is the must-have movie on the bus and fish sandwiches are always in high demand.
How do you feel your conference levels up to the other NCAA conferences?
I think the CAC can compete with every other conference in DIII lacrosse, especially in the past couple years. All of the teams in the conference are getting a lot of good players and achieving a lot of big wins in the past couple of seasons.
If you had to predict the mens’ NCAA title winners right now, who would they be?
D1 – I have a couple buddies that play at Notre Dame and I would love to see a new team like that win it all.
D2 – Mercyhurst has been teetering on winning it all the past couple years and I love the underdog
D3 – Next question…
Have you adjusted to the new heads? How do you think they will affect your game/the general play of lacrosse?
I think they will make the game a lot more exciting for the fans and tougher for the offense to score which is great in my case. We have a lot of kids in practice who will stop playing if the ball is not brand new out of the box, especially the middies; Sam Bradman, Erik Krum, and VK, so they might take it a little harder. Me, just give me a head that Ben Sandlin, assistant coach and former player, has strung up for me and I am fine with it, I’m not very picky.
What are your personal goals for 2010? What are the team goals for 2010?
The team goal at Salisbury is always the same year in and year out: anything less than winning the National Championship is under achievement in our eyes. Personally, my goals are the same as the team goals – WIN. I want to make sure that the team is ready to start a run the first day of practice and to make sure the seniors go out on top, where they belong after all the work they’ve put in.
What is the team doing differently this fall/winter to achieve those goals?
We are working above and beyond what we are supposed to when it comes to running, lifting, and stick work. Fall ball went great with a lot of players stepping up to fill in the holes left from last year’s class. We are doing team circuits, agilities 2 to 3 times a week, and offense and defense try.
How hard is it for a team like SU to get back to the highest level in the conference/nationally every single year?
It’s easy as long as you understand the expectations. Coming in you are already around upperclassmen that constantly expect the best in practice, and we go hard every day to make each other better. Coach sets the tone early that you need to excel both on and off the field in order to have a chance to be on the team. We also hang out a lot off the field together. I would be lying if I said techno dance parties did not break out a lot.
Is there a game or road trip you are most excited about this spring?
This year we are forgoing our annual spring break trip down to Florida and heading up to Haverford where we are playing Cortland for the first time in the regular season. We are all very excited and it will be a huge test for us in a great rivalry that has been going on for the past couple of years.
How did you hear about Salisbury? What interested you most about the school?
Growing up near Nazareth (in the Rochester, NY area), I was a Golden Flyers fan, but I went down to see them play Salisbury in the Championship game and saw the Gulls style of play and loved it. Coach Berkman saw me play in Maryland the summer before my senior year of high school. He gave me an invite to visit the school, and the team showed me a great time. The location is great, it is near ocean city and the school/campus is real nice, so overall it was a win- win situation. My high school Coach, Rick Pound, also pointed me toward Salisbury.
What are your five favorite songs right now?
Tough to pick five but I have been playing with Justin Porter (J. Lincoln aka knowledge Da Professir) up in Placid the past couple years and he just came out with a new CD and every song is FIRE.
We’ll have to check Da Professir out then! …back to lax: What kind of stick are you using? what is the string job like? tape? shaft?
I use the new Evolution that I really like with a low pocket to hold the ball in more when I am in a scrum. I use a Scandium shaft that I like a lot. Like I said earlier, Coach Sandlin strings up all of my sticks. I also like tape on the end and up top with two along the middle so I know where my hands are for checks and shooting.
Who are your heroes in lacrosse? Who inspired you to want to play in college?
My inspiration has always been my dad who has instilled a great work ethic in me and a love for competition. When I first started out playing he had never picked up a stick, but after all of the passing and catching he has done over the years with me and my three brothers I think he has a better stick than I do by now. Lacrosse wise, my inspiration was Coach Jeff McKee who coached me in youth and high school. He is an All-American who went to both Navy and Syracuse, and is still known in a lot of lacrosse circles as one of the most aggressive defensive players to pick up a pole. Also, Tim Soudan who I coach with over the summer is a legend. He has so much knowledge of the game that he is teaching to kids, not to mention that he can still dominate a lacrosse game even today.
Favorite Pro laxer? Why?
I grew up watching Chris Schiller and he is still dominating today I mean come on he makes the USA team for the first time as one of the oldest players out there . He is honestly a freak of nature that I love to watch especially during the transition game because the guy has wheels. Also, my freshman year I got to play with Kyle Hartzel who was a great shutdown defenseman that taught me a lot of things and I’m stoked he is blowing up in the pro game.
Fan of indoor/box lacrosse? preference between field and box? why?
I played indoor back in upstate New York a few times and liked that a lot, but outdoor is a lot more fun because I like transition and running up the field with a long stick. I do love watching indoor games in Rochester, Thorpe and Junior are baddd men on the field.
Thanks for the time, Lets go Gulls!
This has been another Lax All Stars Fireside Chat. Stay tuned to the LAS Network for more interviews, and see our full list here.