Growing the Game: A Case for Community Colleges


Editor’s Note: Please Welcome Josh Rottman from UC Davis to the Lax Network! Josh is talking NorCal Community College Lacrosse!

If you play collegiate lacrosse in Northern California, there are some green and white helmets you’re probably familiar with. They wear jerseys proudly when you only wear your penny, and they often give you nastier bruises than you get during regular season. Unfortunately, you only get to see these helmets between the months of October and December, when your team is engrossed in it’s fall season. You won’t see them again until next fall because they belong to the only lacrosse club in California representing a community college.

While many MCLA teams are knocking last season’s mud off their cleats and introducing their rookies to some foreign and uncomfortable team concepts, the Diablo Valley College Vikings out of Concord, CA are playing a full 16-game schedule against MCLA Div. I and II teams from all over The Golden State—all between October and December.

Diablo Valley Community College Lacrosse
Ripping rope DVCC style.

Despite their lack of MCLA status, on paper, the Vikings seem to have the ingredients for success:

– They now boast a 40-man roster. Three years ago, 15 players showed up to their first game.  This year, midfielder Juan Buenrostro played for Team Mexico in the FIL World Games in England, scoring a goal in their 10-9 loss to North Korea.

– Their schedule includes some of the best teams in California, including NCAA Div II NDNU, MCLA Div. I Cal, UC Davis, Sonoma State, MCLA Div. II St. Mary’s (2010 WCLL Div II Champions), UC Santa Cruz, and San Jose State. They went 3-0 at UC Davis’s annual CALI Invitational this year.

Despite their notable lack of resources, they still reach out to the community that supports them. In September, the entire team, including the coaching staff, donated their time to Gregory Gardens Elementary school in Pleasant Hill. School Principal Cheryl Kolano said, “We were delighted to have the opportunity to work beside the lacrosse team. I enjoyed the enthusiasm and commitment of the team members, who worked clearing the fence line of brush and garbage, removing built-up dirt that was causing flooding in the hallways after heavy rains, and washing down the walls of our Parent and Infant program space. They straightened out planters, filled dumpsters with brush, and touched up murals that cover our outside walls. I can tell you they really kept us jumping.”

Perhaps most impressively, after only three years together they’ve managed to establish a relationship with the school (a feat MCLA teams continue to struggle with) making PE 122, a lacrosse course, required for all players. They practice on a lighted, turf field because their school recognizes that when those 40 players put on those green and white helmets, they are DVC’s ambassadors to California.

On their website, they have a document titled “Expectations of Lacrosse Players.” The tone is intense, detailing the demanding logistics of a club lacrosse player’s life. However, amidst the details and technical specifications, one phrase struck me as particularly insightful. After reminding the reader that the commitment to play for the Vikings is no small one, it reads, “We are preparing you for the commitment to play at the next level.”

The Vikings, as an organization, aim to replicate the club environment of the MCLA teams that surround it, the ones whose season starts in February, not October, in an effort to best prepare their players for transferring. This is, in my opinion, an incredibly humble ambition for a team that spent it’s fall wiping the floor with programs it intended to replicate three years ago. Their commitment not only to their club, but to advancing college lacrosse in California (to Growing the Game, as it were), in addition to the clear joy and incredible work ethic their players bring to the field, is why I will make sure our coach has the Diablo Valley College Vikings scheduled as long as I play college lacrosse.

You can read more about the DVC Vikings Lacrosse Team and and then watch clips from their game against Sonoma State.

To finish things up, we’ve got some amazing photos by Gilda Haskell Rottman (Josh’s mom) that feature the Diablo Valley CC team playing UC Davis’ MCLA team.  Great post from Josh and awesome photos from Gilda!  Great work!!

UC Davis Diablo Valley CC Lacrosse
For some it is fall, for DVCC this is the season!
UC Davis Diablo Valley CC Lacrosse
Lefty jump shot possibly off a question mark dodge.
UC Davis Diablo Valley CC Lacrosse
Conferring on strategy.
UC Davis Diablo Valley CC Lacrosse
Good man, getting those hips low!