Editor’s Note: Welcome Colin Lavery to LAS! Colin will be covering Indiana Lacrosse’s journey through the MCLA this year, and giving you a firsthand perspective on what it’s like to be an MCLA Division 1 player!
For my first LaxAllStars blog, I thought it would be a good idea to let readers know what the club lacrosse experience is like to better understand my perspective on the sport, playing for the Indiana University. Hopefully this blog will also be able to help current high school students get a better idea of what the club experience is like so they can make a more educated decision about playing lacrosse in college.
Before I get into the details of our weekly season schedule, I should add some context.
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Club lacrosse varies greatly from team to team. Some schools give their club teams more money, more field priorities, or simply have more space for rec sports. Other teams in the MCLA hardly have enough guys to field a team and are lucky to get 5 games in per season. My experience is based solely on my three years at Indiana. In my time here, we’ve received votes for the top 25 polls and made the MCLA National Tournament my freshman year, so I think it’s safe to say that we’re in the top half of the MCLA and probably have higher than average resources. That being said, this is what our average season looks like:
Indiana Lacrosse – FALL
During the Welcome Week festivities here at IU, the lacrosse team sets up a booth at the Rec Sports Fair. A lot of prospective freshmen players contact Coach Nelson before coming to campus, but we welcome walk-ups to come by and put down their contact information and talk to the guys working the booth.
Usually the older guys will use the email list and organize some kind of social gathering before classes start so we can get to know the guys and answer any of their questions directly. After that, we normally have an introductory meeting during the first week of classes, where Coach Nelson informs the new guys about the commitment we expect, the dues, and lays out the practice schedule for the season.
We normally start practice towards the end of the first week of classes or the beginning of the second week. Practices are two-hours a day, four days a week. Since my freshman year, we’ve practiced from 7-9 pm on Mondays and Wednesdays and 7:30-9:30 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We have two separate practice locations, but neither are more than 5 miles from campus and we set up a car pool that first week to make sure everyone has a ride. Both fields we practice on are grass fields, so if it’s raining practice usually gets cancelled. When we have to cancel too many practices in a row, we usually start doing mandatory team workouts outside, or at the gym.
The fall season also usually includes a few scrimmages that allow us to see a different opponent and give the freshmen an opportunity to see what road trips with the team are like. My freshman year, we traveled to Augustana to play some Division III teams, and this year we went to Wisconsin to play two Division III teams as well as one MCLA Division II team.
We definitely wanted to win the games, but I think the focus was to show the younger guys what the routine would be for traveling- making the bus, having a curfew at the hotel, waking up for breakfast and a chalk talk. After these scrimmages, fall ball becomes more drill and competition oriented until we end with our annual Halloween scrimmage.
Indiana Lacrosse – WINTER (OFFSEASON)
After fall ball ends, we normally have a few team meetings to get fitted for gear and discuss what is expected of us in the offseason. By this point, most of the guys that were going to quit have quit, so the roster is much more solid and chemistry has started to build. Our winter workouts tend to be less formal because it doesn’t really make sense to try to fit 56 guys into the gym at once alongside the other students we share the facilities with. But, that’s not to say they aren’t mandatory.
At the end of fall ball, we took a conditioning test as a team that served as our benchmark for the spring season. Results were individual and recorded by our coach, so we knew we had to at least be in the same shape as we were after a season of fall ball by the time the spring practices rolled around. This year, we also sent out a weightlifting program with a few exercises guys could choose from on their own.
Indiana Lacrosse – SPRING
Our spring practices start the first week back from winter break. There’s only one indoor field here at Indiana, so this is normally the most hectic time of the year in terms of practice times. This year, we practice Sunday night from 1130 pm to 1 am and Monday night in the same time slot. We also have Thursday nights from 1130-1, but we sometimes trade this field time with another club sport so we can have the full field for our practices.
When we have the full field, we like to stretch, do stick work, and get right into a full field scrimmage. This allows us to get our conditioning back up and also work with our potential line-mates to develop chemistry and get to know each other’s tendencies. When we have a half field, we usually do more drill-based practices with a lot of competition drills, like ground balls, 1v1’s, uneven situations, etc.
The practice schedule stays the same through our first couple games of the season, so we have to learn to make the most of the indoor time we have, even if it’s only on a half field. After spring break, we move back to the outdoors practices and our four-day-a-week fall schedule. The spring weather in Bloomington can be unpredictable so we try to bundle up and get in as many practices as the weather permits.
We try to play two games a weekend and the amount of travel we do in a season varies. This year, we travel three weekends, then have the rest of our games at home. Starting with the last weekend of February, the only weekend we have off is the weekend of the Little 500. We still usually have a few practices Little 500 week, but Coach Nelson makes sure we get to enjoy what’s supposed to be one of the best college weekends in America.
Once the regular season concludes, we travel to St. Louis for the GRLC tournament. Depending on how we do in the regular season, we may only have to play two games that weekend. My freshman year, we went undefeated in conference and had a first round bye that turned out to be a big advantage. If we win conference, which is our goal every year, we continue to practice through the end of the school year in preparation for the National Tournament. This means we have to stay on campus past finals week, unless we book a flight from home. My freshman year I flew out of Chicago and met the team out in California. In California, we get in as much practice as we can and prepare to face whoever we draw.
This year, we hope to make it past the first round and continue moving forward as a program. Either way, the California trip is a perfect reward for the time commitment and work we put in from the first week of fall ball to the last game of the year.
That’s a season with Indiana Lacrosse!