By JOHN JAMISON
A new head coach in addition to an unprecedented 32 players on the athletic honor- roll, signals a new direction for the University of Mary Washington’s men’s lacrosse team this spring.
UMW places a premium on student-athletes balancing their academic and athletic goals. In fact, the GPA of the entire student-athlete body, which includes approximately 500 young men and women, has been over 3.0 for five consecutive semesters. The recent academic efforts of the lacrosse team have undoubtedly contributed to this achievement and the athletic department is proud of these numbers.
“We don’t just maintain their eligibility, we encourage all student-athletes to maximize their academic experience and earn their UMW degree,” said UMW athletic director Ken Tyler.
It appears to be a promising start for head coach Drew Delaney. He replaced Kurt Glaeser, who retired after 27 seasons at the helm when last season came to a close. Delaney comes with plenty of experience as he was named the Landmark Conference coach of the year in 2015 while leading the Elizabethtown College Blue Jays’ program to back-to-back undefeated seasons in conference play.
Additionally, he served as the first head coach of Arcadia College’s lacrosse program in 2012 and 2013. Beyond his coaching merit, however, is his experience as a player himself. He was a defender at Franklin and Marshall College where his team reached the NCAA quarterfinals in 2003.
The players themselves are the ones largely responsible for their academic improvement as a team. Having so much of the team on the athletic honor roll does a lot for morale and adds another layer of trust to the relationship between players.
It creates an environment where it is far less likely that teammates will fall victim to academic suspensions and be forced to sit out of practice or games. “Not having to stress about grades lets us focus on just playing when we’re out there,” Drew Carlson, a senior on the team said.
Further, it opens up an extremely accessible avenue for those who are not doingparticularly well in certain classes. Sometimes it can be easier to reach out to a teammate to help with tutoring since they interact with each other almost every day during the season.
In 2014, the men’s lacrosse program finished the regular season 14-4 and made their first and only appearance at the NCAA tournament to date. No doubt the current program seeks to repeat that success, while at the same time continuing to cultivate a strong academic focus.