Grow the Game®

With the 2021 Division III men's lacrosse season in full swing, the return of the rivalry is one of the best things after missing out in 2020.
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Return of the Rivalry – The Passion Is Real in DIII Lacrosse

It has been way too long since we have been able to play rivalry games. 

Full Disclosure: I may, or may not, drink my coffee each morning in a mug that is the colors of our rivals just to fire up immediately.


For many of us in DIII, we lost the entire conference season and the playoffs last year. So it’s beyond exciting to get the opportunity to play against long-standing rivals this spring.  From the preseason polls, to the buzz throughout our network of coaching friends, and the projections of who lost whom and who added new hotshot recruits, every little thing is analyzed and overanalyzed pre-contest.  


Every year is a new team, and one of my favorite parts of coaching is seeing each freshmen’s growth and understanding when they get a taste of the rivalries. Twenty-nine out of our 42 players were not on our team the last time we played our rivals.  It was fun to see them wide eyed when random fans on campus casually directed obscene gestures toward our busses as we pulled into town for the game.  It was exhilarating to feel the energy as we stepped off the bus. 

After the stares across the midline and normal hooting and hollering during warm ups, and before the national anthem, we stood together to listen to our league’s expectations for sportsmanship over the loudspeaker.  Essentially, it is really foreshadowing all the violations that are about to occur when the game starts and the crowd on the fence begins yelling.

“…profanity will not be tolerated.” “F— YOU 22!!!”  Chirp props for assonance and sheer directness.  


“Spectators will not taunt the opposing team.”  Apparently these fans did their research on our goalie’s dog’s name, hometown, and girlfriend.  I guess players in the modern era of technology may need to consider their social media revelations – even the most ordinary.  

“Consumption of alcoholic beverages is prohibited.”  Drunk or sober, college fans can bring some real energy and excitement to a rivalry.  

Cheer for your team and not against your opponent or the officials. This is one of our team standards, and our execution is tested when in the throes of a rivalry game.  It is tough for them to hear things like that and not want to yell back or respond, other than on the scoreboard.  It is a great lesson that can only really be learned in these types of games.


I am sure teams visiting our stadium hear our fans as well.  Our hockey team comes out to home games, and they create quite an atmosphere with their chirping.  Yet, it is one thing to be on the team and held to a standard, and another thing to be a rabid fan during a rivalry game.  

Fans notwithstanding, the mutual respect and sportsmanship inside the lines between players and coaches was excellent, and it was a treat and privilege to be back playing in big games again