Lacrosse returns and looks to rebuild
The NAU men’s lacrosse team is back this season, after a year away from the field. Due to lack of funding and players, the club was forced to disassemble, which has happened in previous years.
“We didn’t take a year off by choice,” said sophomore co-captain Conor Hawblitzel. “We didn’t have enough people.”
Sophomore co-captain Hayden Heigel and Hawblitzel took the initiative to begin recruiting to construct a team this year after the team fell through last season.
“Conor and I started this, started coming out [to practice], right after school started around August,” said Heigel. “Since then, we have been trying to recruit people on campus.”
Beginning in August, Heigel and Hawblitzel started recruiting interested students, and as of now, anywhere from 30 to 40 players have responded. The ultimate goal, however, would be to expand their roster, because it is rare to have the entire team attend practice every week.
“We are just trying to grow and earn respect from the league [The club is not part of a league yet, but hopes to join the Southwestern Lacrosse Conference.] We aim to get into the league next year; it’s kind of what this year is about, is building and getting players,” said Heigel. “[The goal is] just letting people know that we are here.”
For most of the guys on the team, they have never played, nor met each other before this year. So how does the team create chemistry?
According to Heigel, they do this by spending more time together on the field.
“It’s interesting,” said Heigel. “We try to have scrimmages on the weekends and that’s where we get our bonding time.”
Despite most of the members of the club not having any lacrosse experience, they participated in other high school sports and showcased their athleticism there. Among the newcomers to the squad is junior Jack Carson, who participated in football and hockey.
“I never played it before,” Carson said. “My friend got me a stick one summer because he played in college. It was a lot of fun playing catch. When I came to NAU and heard they are getting a lacrosse team started, I put my name on it [the list], got an email from Hayden and came out.”
Not having played lacrosse before this year does not stop the motivated junior in trying to do his best everyday at practice.
“As a beginner, I’m someone for an experienced player to bounce off of,” Carson said. “So when they try to teach them something, it reaffirms it in them, and it makes them better at something. Like when they teach me a move, or a play or a boxed offense and a manned down defense, when they teach it to me, when I learn that, it helps everyone.”
The Lumberjacks are stuggling to find a head coach after previous coaches did not show any interest. Currently Hawblitzel and Heigel are the coaches. However, the team is looking for anyone interested in stepping into such a position.
“It’s just Conor and I coaching,” Heigel said. “The coach that was going to coach last year left. So, we are looking for a coach. It’s hard, and there aren’t that many people here, right? So it’s hard.”
But Heigel is still positive about the situation.
“Anyone pretty much could be a coach. If one of us gets hurt, that could be our new coach, but we are still looking for anyone [to be the coach].”
From a coaching perspective, Heigel said the attacking line is the strongest aspect of the team, but it is difficult for them to evaluate the team when the captains need more students to come to practice.
“There aren’t tryouts, but practices are open,” said Hawblitzel. “If people want to come out, they are more than welcome to do so. We are trying to get more people out there. It’s a lot of fun; we need more people to come out to the practices.”
Practices have started this semester, but the season will begin in the spring. The team currently meets twice a week for two hours. In the future, the team will practice three days a week, including conditioning.
To cover the fees associated with club sports, there is the option of fundraising, which the team will be participating in, as well as an annual fee to buy equipment and new uniforms for the upcoming year.
Hawblitzel is eager to see how the Jacks stack up against other teams.
“We want to win some games; we will take as many as we can get,” Hawblitzel said.
Despite setbacks, Hawblitzel is optimistic about the future for the lacrosse team.
“I see more people in the future, fun games [and] great workouts next semester,” Heigel said, while Carson screamed “A championship, a championship.”