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FIST: A University of Michigan Lacrosse Documentary

The University of Michigan Men’s Lacrosse program rolled out another engaging video back in May, giving a wholehearted look into the core value system that each Wolverine buys into when coming to Ann Arbor to play for coach John Paul.

FIST is a Michael O’Leary production, completed with the help of four others. Four out of the five working on the project have close ties to the subject matter, being Michigan alumni and all.

“It’s something I create every year for the team going back 15 years to when I was on the team. We all do it for fun, just to give back.” Micheal O’Leary

The piece begins with Coach Paul filling us in on how he was creating a team from nothing. He had to make future players want to become a Wolverine and succeed at the highest level. Now a few years deep as a NCAA program, it’s clear that the early success of the Michigan lacrosse team came quickly due to the culture Paul created on campus.

There are four main values to this culture, Wolverines know as FIST (Family, Integrity, Selflessness, and Toughness).


This is the most important value out of the four. If the team is a family, the other three values will already be there. Once every person cares about every member of the team, then you have a family.

Ohio State vs Michigan lacrosse photo cred: LaxAllStars

The players spend almost their entire time together. Whether they’re riding their scooters in a pack to practice or hanging out at the team houses, the Wolverines are never alone. The bonds formed between teammates is incredible, friends become brothers in such a short time. In 9 months (roughly a full school year) total strangers can become the people you trust the most.


To Coach Paul and the Wolverines, integrity is more than just being honest. To the team it means having realistic expectations, setting goals and achieving them. Whether it’s team or personal goals, each and every goal needs to be achieved to make sure that the team will be successful.


Ohio State vs Michigan 2015 BIg Ten Lacrosse Photo Credit: Molly Tavoletti

When Coach Paul talks about selflessness, there are two parts. First, he wants his players to not take things for granted. Not everyone gets the chance to play a DI college sport at a school with rich traditions like Michigan.

Coach Paul says it best, “It is as much about appreciation, as it is actually about doing things for others.”

Players also have to understand their role on the team. Not every player is the star and minutes are hard to come by. Even if you’re a guy isn’t relied upon in the game, if he doesn’t show up ready for practice everyday, there will be an inevitable void causing the team will come up short on the season.


The Wolverines believe toughness is not only about being able to face adversity, but also always being able to hold yourself and others accountable. Both of these are very important things that those who want to be great should strive to do on and off of the field.

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Take the time to watch this video and really reflect on Coach Paul’s words and core values. Even if you aren’t a Michigan fan, there is something everyone can take away from FIST, share it once you’re done!