A wise man once said –‘the skill in attending a party is knowing when it’s time to leave.’
It’s time for CollegeLAX to leave the MCLA party. This wasn’t an easy decision, but all good things must end.
– Sonny Pieper, Founder, CollegeLAX.us
Today is a sad and miserable day for anyone who has ever been a part of the MCLA. CollegeLAX played an integral role in making the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association what it is to date, and news of the company’s departure is disheartening, to say the least.
As a person who always tries to have his finger on the pulse of our sport, I can honestly tell you that I never expected to see this day. After observing the great progress made on CollegeLAX.us during the 2011 college lacrosse season, I am speechless. The website undertook a drastic redesign (making it better than ever), a promising vehicle for live webcasting was launched, and a youthful level of energy emerged from the CollegeLAX Twitter account. To me, all signs pointed to CollegeLAX continuing to grow the game for years to come, and it was thrilling to see the traction they were gathering.
When I was senior in high school, I had no idea what the USLIA (later known as the MCLA) was or why it mattered. I didn’t even have the slightest clue where to find information about college lacrosse West of the Mississippi. That was until I got introduced to USLIA.com by my best friend, Rob McQuade. I remember us scouring the website on a computer in the school library one afternoon, and it was there that we discovered a passionate core fan base existed for these college “club” lacrosse teams. It made us feel some promise and excitement around our recent college decisions – Rob had chose to attend University of Utah under Mason Goodhand, while I headed to Oregon to play for Coach Kerwin and the Ducks. Most of all, it made us feel like we were about to be a part of something special. If you’ve played or coached in the MCLA before, you know what I mean.
The site USLIA.com eventually re-branded itself as CollegeLAX.us when the league was renamed the “Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association,” and the rest is history. My college schedule was crazy and I wasn’t one to have many routines, but I always new I had a dose of CollegeLAX.us available to me. The site was my daily multi-vitamin. It was my first stop every morning, it was where I hung out during a boring class, and it what my teammates and I all talked about during stretches at the beginning of practice until the coaches got mad at us. So we’d stop and continue the conversations, which often involved anonymous forum posts, after practice. Hopefully you get the picture, and I think many of you may be able to relate. CollegeLAX.us was what kept our league connected.
Sonny Pieper blazed a trail for the MCLA, leading teams of all caliber to get more news coverage online and in their local markets, more webcasts for friends, family and fans, and more support from program boosters and long-lost alumni. Not to mention the televised games that positively presented the MCLA to sports fans nationwide… I think it’s safe to say that if you had to give credit to one man, you would give it to Sonny Pieper for putting the MCLA on the map.
It is with that thought that I give Sonny Pieper and his excellent team a public thank you on behalf of myself and everyone here at LaxAllStars.com for accomplishing so much for the MCLA over the past 13 yeas. The MCLA is forever indebted to CollegeLAX.
The MCLA is still young and it will go on. New websites will form. Others will do their best to try to fill the gap. Good people will come together to make sure the MCLA has an alternative resource, but be aware the MCLA will never be the same.
Please find some thoughts and reflections about CollegeLAX from a few of us here at LaxAllStars.com below. We invite everyone reading this to join us by sharing their own thoughts in the comments section.
Grow the game,
What CollegeLAX Meant To Us…
JEFF BRUNELLE, Co-Founder, Lax All Stars (Oregon ’08)
I am incredibly bummed to hear the news about CollegeLAX. As an MCLA alum, CollegeLAX.us has always been my go-to source for MCLA news. I have great respect for Sonny, and I’m eternally grateful for what he and his crew have done to help grow the league and the game over the years.
RYAN CRAVEN, Co-Founder, Lax All Stars (Oregon ’07)
The year was 2003 and all I knew about the larger lacrosse community was where my high school team ranked nationally in the LaxPower computer poll. That all changed once I joined the college lacrosse scene and traveled the country playing competitive college lacrosse with 40+ of my closest friends. As our program started to gain more national respect, not a week went by that we didn’t obsessively check the CollegeLAX forums to catch up on scores or hear the latest news from the then USLIA.
CollegeLAX meant a lot to me because it was a place where people could express their passion for club lacrosse 24/7. The legitimacy of the now MCLA has increased tenfold since I started reading the forums 8 years ago, and CollegeLAX played a major part in connecting people and starting the conversation. Now it’s up to all of us to keep it going and continue to strive for club lacrosse to live up to its “virtual varsity” calling.
CONNOR WILSON, Content Director, Lax All Stars
I grew up an NCAA lax guy, through and through. Until my brother went to Tulane, I didn’t actually know what the MCLA was, or that it existed. But being the caring older brother that I am, I wanted to keep tabs on my brother… and there was CollegeLAX.us. It grew the game, was done on the owner’s terms, and was fan supported. I’m very sad to see them shutting down, and I vow to do my best to pick up where they left off!
PETER TUMBAS, Editor, 412 Lax (Pitt ’10)
CollegeLAX introduced me to the wild and wonderful world of what has become MCLA lacrosse some eleven years ago. While I’ve never agreed with their journalism, I wouldn’t have a working knowledge or love affair with the league without Sonny and his website. Thanks for growing the game, Sonny.
ROB MCQUADE, Contributor, LaxAllStars.com (Utah, Idaho ’08)
Back when the MCLA was the USLIA, Sonny’s forums were the place to talk up how great a Fall your team had and talk smack about which teams belonged in the weekly poll. The forums were a place all the club guys could go and hangout, and no one thought about your team as just a beer team with a lax problem. As an assistant coach on a winless PNCLL team, the forums provided motivation that the new techniques the new staff was trying were getting respect, albeit without wins. Sonny’s CollegeLAX was the first engine behind the development of USLIA/MCLA league culture. It’s a sad day that Sonny has decided to close up shop. This MCLA alumnus wishes him well in his future endeavours and many thanks for the contribution he made to our league.
P.S. – I guess I’ll never know if “Pieper” was pronounced Piper or Peeper
NOAH HILSGEN, Contributor, MCLA Fan (UNC-Charlotte ’09)
CollegeLAX is how I actually discovered the MCLA. Honestly, if it weren’t for that website, I would have never discovered that UNC Charlotte had a team when I did. It’s a huge loss for the MCLA, especially for the forums. Where else could you easily swap/talk gear, reffing, set up games, etc.? Hopefully someone steps up in their place to fill the void.
ANDREW RATZKE, Contributor, Sweet Sweet Lax (PLU ’09)
CollegeLAX was always a fun way to keep up on the league. I tried to keep away from the small bits of trash talking that would take place about polls and whatever else, but it was always nice to be able to read write ups from other coaches after games and get a sense of where the rest of the league was at throughout the season.
When a coach from another team gives your boys a great review, win or lose, you know you are playing the game the way it is meant to be played. I pretty much only followed CollegeLAX for PNCLL stuff but the national rankings and whatever else was always great to see. I think having that visible gave teams a goal, you know? I remember how hard our team worked the first year we made the top 25. When you’re visible like that it gives even the smallest/poorly funded of teams a feeling like they are worth something or that they have something to show off a bit.
DAN HELFRICH, Founder, LacrosseRoads of America (Indiana ’11)
Definitely a sad day. I remember arriving at IU and being excited about a news outlet who would report on our league. I’ll miss reading their articles, and I’ll especially miss the forums.
BRADFORD CHRISTENSEN, Editor, Drofdarb Sports (Boise State ’08)
I wouldn’t consider myself a regular visitor to CollegeLAX, but when I was looking for information, had something to say or just wanted to talk lacrosse – the forums were always a reliable place to interact with current players, coaches, alumni and others. I usually visited the PNCLL and RMLC sections and will miss the first hand information and discussion about the leagues. One can only wonder how much the site helped to grow the game!
WILL PATTON, Editor, MCLA Fan (Willamette ’07)
Sonny was the first guy from the MCLA to push our league into the digital world. He was the innovator. He saw that there was demand for online information consumption when no one else did. He created a thriving online community, and I found out the news this morning because it has always been in my daily routine of site visits. The MCLA will never be the same without CollegeLAX.