This blog got off to a good start, but our postings weren’t as regular as we’d like so next year we’re going to work on writing more posts; in the meantime, we just finished one of the greatest seasons in Lynchburg College Lacrosse history!
We concluded with a 17-2 record, our 4th ODAC Title and our 6th trip to the NCAA Tournament. Obviously, we would have liked to finish our season with a National Championship, but we will move forward with that goal into the 2013 season.
The NCAA championships are a different beast and one difference that is very profound is the bench limits established by the NCAA Championships committee. For Division III Lacrosse we are allowed to play 28 players in the contest. We are also allowed 14 more bench personnel on the sidelines, 2 of which must be medical staff,Athletic Trainers. Therefore you have 12 spots to really work with. We ended up with 4 coaches and 8 student-athletes rounding out that 12.
This may not seem like a huge issue, but when you carry a team of 52 student-athletes + Ryan Beale – therefore 53, this proposes a problem come NCAA time. Where do the other members of the team sit?
In the stands. Therefore, we had to place 17 guys in the stands. Ryan Beale was with us on the sidelines.
I am a strong believer that every person on the roster has a role; they have a role in practice and they have a role during games. We have groups of players that simulate the other teams EMO, we have players that simulate the other teams offense and defense. They may even have roles off the field. All in all, they all play a major role in the team’s success. We told our guys about the roster and we went down the players that would be on the bench during the game on Friday. I wanted to get this out into the open and have each player understand their role a day in advance. I cannot express how horrible it felt to read these names out and ask them to change their role from being on the sideline to trying to carry out their role from the bleachers. Turn a negative into a positive.
Before each game just before the National Anthem, our guys get together on the Seniors and say a couple of quick motivational words. On game day, one of the seniors, Jon Lombardo, asked me if it was NCAA permissible to conduct that pre-game huddle at the base of the bleachers where the 17 guys would be standing. I told him that was fine and they proceeded to carry this out just before the playing of the National Anthem.
There are things that I will remember about this year and that moment will rank among the best.
We struggled in January with how many players to carry. We had never carried more than 47 or 48, but thought it would be in the best interest of this team and the future of this program to carry a few extra guys. We ended up carrying 52. We travelled to every game with all of them and in one instance that meant that some of the coaches had to take a school car. We were able to purchase extra jerseys for the guys above the #49. That was all we had heading into the spring. All in all, this group of 53 became 1… One Heartbeat.
To those guys in the bleachers, thank you. You handled yourself with class and dignity in a time where complaining would have been readily acceptable. Your hard work and your efforts are going to pay off in the long run and while we work our best to get these sideline numbers increased through the NCAA Championships Committee, it will be your turn to be on the sidelines next year and lead this team as others have done before you. Let’s Hunt!