I had a chance to talk to Head Coach Ned Webster about the program, its history, the future and the WILA. Below is what Coach Webster had to say…
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Please tell us a little bit about the history of the DU Penguins lax team!
Dominican Lacrosse had its inaugural season in the spring of 2005. I was hired in January of 2006 to coach a Bad News Bears type crew that had only three players with more than a year of experience. We gradually got better from 2007 to 2009, but recruiting was difficult because we weren’t an NCAA program, and we weren’t allowed in the club league because we were funded by the university and could offer athletic scholarship money. So we were kind of like a pro football team that wasn’t allowed in the NFL or the CFL.
Without a league or a championship to play for, we were in this weird grey area that wasn’t attractive to recruits and it really hurt our ability to grow as quickly as any of us would have liked. It was a long, frustrating, yet fun few years, but finally in 2010 we adopted NCAA status, and we’re now on much smoother ground moving forward with recruiting and we’re building the program much more rapidly.
Can you tell us a little about the University?
Dominican is located in San Rafael, California, just 11 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge in close proximity to San Francisco, the bay, the beaches, the mountains, and the hundreds of hiking and biking trails chiseled in the rolling hills composing our backyard. The University consists of nearly 2,000 students, 75% of which are female.
As a current master’s student at Dominican, I can say firsthand that the student-to-faculty ratio of 14:1 really aids the learning process and allows a student to communicate with the professors on a personal level. The Bay Area possesses a high collective IQ- one reason why I chose to live here – and we see that intelligence carry over into our faculty.
How are the athletic facilities? What type of field do you play on?
Our gym is outstanding and serves as an excellent home for indoor practice and wall ball drills. The weight room has everything we need in the way of Olympic lifts to become bigger, stronger and more athletic. But I think we’re all excited about the new synthetic turf field we’re breaking ground on this June which will be complete this fall. It’s the last piece of the puzzle in building this program.
Please tell us a little bit about the feel of the campus… Walking around, what do you see?
Several of the buildings and mansions on campus are ivy covered, and have an east coast charm to them.
What is your current view of the 2011 Penguins Season?
We have solid depth and athleticism at both midfield and defense. And the competition between the pipes has only made both of them work hard and improve.
Are there any players who seem to be really developing this season?
When you don’t have any seniors on your roster and you know that nearly every player will return in the fall, and you also know that you’re bringing in a dozen-plus top-notch recruits, you can’t help but get excited for the future and the way things are progressing here at Dominican. But another result of not having any seniors is that it opens opportunities for underclassmen to step up and lead, and we’re seeing that from guys like freshmen Austin Franks, Mason Mooney and Brock Beall.
Any players you’d like to single out and commend?
Guys like Reed Upson and Dalton Copeland have really improved their games this year and are starting to find their niche, and Ben Wang has once again been our most consistent and steady defender. I think most noteworthy is the relationship between our goalies Ryan Williams and Sean Donohue who have not only been incredibly competitive with one another this year, but they’ve been incredibly supportive of one another during the process, which is not easy to do when you don’t get the starting nod, but it really demonstrates their sportsmanship and ‘team first’ attitude which has helped keep the team tight.
What’s your view and outlook for the next three years? Goals for the program?
We are working very hard right now to be a Top 10 team next year, and I think with the improvement we’re making so far this year and the recruits we’re bringing in this fall that that is an attainable goal. Our ultimate goal in the next two to three years is to be playing in an NFL stadium on Memorial Day weekend hoisting a gold trophy over our heads. I’m not at Dominican to punch a timecard and tell people I simply like coaching. I’m at Dominican to win an NCAA Championship.
Do you guys have any aspirational goals for the WILA?
We want the WILA to be strong top to bottom, and I’m proud to be associated with these other coaches who share this goal of helping the sport grow out west.
How about your goals for lacrosse out West?
For west coast lacrosse to catch up with the east coast, it is absolutely essential for there to be legitimate college lacrosse programs for the high school and youth players to watch and learn from just as I did growing up in Baltimore. Our players and coaches at Dominican take a lot of pride as being one of these teams.
What type of Student Athlete are you looking to recruit to the Dominican University of California?
I believe you can win games with good people. So we’re looking for good people who are also good lacrosse players and good students. Also, I’m always interested in meeting the parents because I believe good kids come from good parents.
And now, some very classy gear for the Pens…
Thanks to Coach Webster for taking time out of his busy day to contribute! Good luck in the rest of the season, Pens.
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