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Brown State Blogging: Seasons Change

Editor’s note: Alex Jones, a junior midfielder for Brown University, will be writing for Lacrosse All Stars this spring about Brown State Lacrosse. He’ll be covering both on and off the field activities, and will give you an inside look into the Brown University Men’s Lacrosse Program. He starts off with an intro post that spans last year and this fall, and covers the seven words lacrosse players dread hearing most.

“We are just NOT in good shape”

These seven words, when combined in just the right order, let a player know he is in trouble after they come out of the Head Coach’s
mouth.  Whether true or false, right or wrong, appropriate or otherwise, a player on any team knows the consequences of these words and it will no doubt send a chill down his spine, and a phantom ache into his legs.

Alex Jones in action for Brown in 2011.

As a sophomore midfielder on the Brown University Lacrosse team during the 2011 season, I heard these exact words after our team
barely squeaked out a win against our cross town rivals at Providence College.  We battled all game, and eventually won 6-4, but a late game collapse almost doomed our team as we sucked wind and nearly fell apart mentally.  These near, and sometimes actual, collapses unfortunately characterized our season in 2011.

But after Coach Tiffany addressed the issue out loud on the short bus ride home, on what should have been a happy and relieving trip back to campus to enjoy a weekend night, things turned relatively somber.

Why?  Because we knew change was coming – and we knew it wouldn’t be an easy one.  And believe me readers, that change certainly did come this fall to the Brown Men’s Lacrosse team.  Coach Tiffany’s main point of this, my junior fall, was to reinstate our team motto and mantra of “Brown State”. As a Brown lacrosse player, we hear this phrase almost a lot, but a person not familiar with it might have no idea what I’m talking about.

The term Brown State comes from an old joke that Brown was the easiest of the Ivy League schools.  As most people aren’t as familiar with Brown as the other Ivies like the Big Three, they were more inclined to believe it was an easier school, and derogatorily view it like they might a state school, for example.  Hence the “State” term.  As athletes are always looking for a theme or an idea to rally around, We use the term Brown State to try to incorporate an edge into our play.  Most people who know about Brown know that the University has the mentality of “Yea, we know we’re kind of weird, but we like it that way”.

And believe me we do; students here are some of the most talented, intelligent, creative, and downright weird kind of people that I will likely ever be surrounded by in my life, but I, like almost all other students at Brown absolutely love it that way.  But with that being said, there are no brownie points given in lacrosse for appreciating your school, or trying to embody the culture of your school on the field.

And this is why while we’re on the field we want to separate ourselves from the ultra-liberal persona attached to Brown, and try to play with the blue-collar intensity that old-school State universities had.  Of course, everyone associated with our lacrosse program has
a different interpretation of what Brown State means, but no matter what that interpretation is or was, we all knew that we had gotten away from it last spring, leading to a very forgettable season to say the least.

So how do you go about reinstating this mentality?  Well, there are a lot of ways I could imagine doing it.  But as a team, we went with good ol’ fashioned military workouts.  Thats right, about a week after classes had begun, at 7:15AM, at our very first team workout event, the military made their presence known on our Berylson fields in the form of United States Marine Corps Captain Randy Parks and his crew of officers.

Our team has relatively strong ties to the military as former captain Charlie Kenney ’09 now serves as a sniper in the Marines, and current captain Rob Sleschinger will enter the Marine Corps when he graduates this spring. (Many of the guys on the team are also very well versed in Call of Duty – Modern Warfare 3 strategy which, as everyone knows, essentially makes them five star field generals – but that is besides the point.)  Their goal was to kick us into shape, and they definitely did just that.  Long sprints, carrying and overhead pressing heavy ammunition boxes, and a drill consisting of “maneuvering under fire” (running + crawling), carrying a buddy, and of course throwing an extremely dangerous live grenade, i.e an old tennis ball.

The workout was difficult, but the main benefit from it was the team building aspect. Coach Tiffany often tells us, “your only fear should be that your teammate can not depend on you”, and during these various workouts throughout the fall season, these words really resonated with the team. As dumb as it may sound, we all got the sense that morning that we were actually carrying an “injured” buddy who actually needed our help.  Sound stupid?  It might be, but thats why we all compete; to go through tough times with your teammates and to learn to count on each other.  Ultimately, it makes you a tighter, more cohesive team, and through that workout, and the tough practices and morning runs to follow after that military morning, I think our team established a great chemistry and high sense of morale.

This has probably been the highest point in my time here at Brown, and we are all excited about it.  Now we enter spring with a heightened sense of pride, and the knowledge that we will work hard and do whatever it takes to win games.

To end with, make sure to check out our awesome video (below), made by Caz Rubacky, summarizing what we did in the fall. And make sure to check back later on Lax All Stars for more blog posts about the Brown lacrosse team.