Despite not being recognized as an official University sport, Framingham’s men’s lacrosse club team still practices until they are kicked out of the gym or it’s pitch black outside.
After years with too few players on the team, men’s lacrosse has remained outside the list of official varsity sports at Framingham State.
However, when David Roche took over as the head coach for the team last year, things started trending upwards.
Netminder Alex Drake said, “I started my freshman year on this team. We had no subs for games and most people played the whole game. Now, two years later, the first practice came around and we had three times the number of people playing than we did in the last two years.
Drake added, “It’s been exciting to see the team grow in size and community. After my freshman year we got a new coach that cares about the players and knows the game very well.”
Roche said, “When I took over the program in February 2018, we had very few returning players. For many of our games last season, we barely had enough players to compete.”
He added, “We have made a concerted effort to reach out to the FSU community and encourage new participants to join club lacrosse.”
The assistant coach even tried to convince me to join the team when I went to cover their practices.
He added, “Many have not played before, but they are very good athletes. Several are hockey and football players at FSU, and we are very excited to see their continued development.”
The few returning players have experienced both the team’s lows and the now-promising highs.
Senior Captain Shayne Hurley said, “To come from last year with the low numbers we had, to now with the numbers we got for this year, shows that the sport at the school is growing in interest.”
Hurley was one of the few athletes who laced up his cleats for the Rams during the club’s struggles, and he now laces up as a captain for a much larger group of players.
“It is a tremendous honor to be one of the captains of this team. To have that honor put upon you means a lot,” Hurley said. “This is a tremendous group of guys that come to work every day and it makes it that much better. At the end of the day, everyone on this team is a leader.”
Many of the new players have never played lacrosse before, but the returning players like Hurley are always willing to show them the ropes.
Even Roche’s son takes care of teaching the new players the game. The season only started a month ago, but the team already looks like they’ve known each other forever.
Roche directly impacted the growth of the team and the interest for the sport.
Roche said, “Changing the culture has been the most difficult part, since the prior coaching staff had dissuaded former players to continue. I feel like we’ve changed that, and I’m very excited to see what happens with the 2019 team.”
Now with a full starting lineup and a loaded bench, the team is looking past getting enough players and is focusing on putting themselves on the map.
Hurley said, “Overall, everyone wants to make it to the playoffs, but it starts off with the everyday goals: winning battles, getting ground balls, sticking to our systems, and always staying focused.”
He added, “These will help us in winning games and getting us to the overall goal of making the playoffs.”
Roche said, “We try to get better every day and hope that our student athletes are gaining a valuable experience along the way. Ultimately, we’d like to be competing at the national level and playing a more difficult schedule.”
With the growth the team has experienced and the new team culture, it won’t be long before men’s lacrosse becomes an official sport at Framingham State.
After winning only one game over the last four seasons, the Rams will look to be more successful this year and create a whole new image and expectation for the sport at FSU. With the hard work the team has been putting in, this certainly looks like it could be a reality.