By Cheryl Brown
The Handshake- Claremont Seniors Red, Loyola University- White
Loyola Universities Lacrosse team has been on a team- bonding trip after what they felt to be a disappointing season. The coaching staff believed the players needed some help gelling on and off the field. .
From Left: Loyola Coach Matt Dwan , Loyola Head Coach Charley Toomey, Claremont Head Coach Darren Reisig, Claremont Coach Chris McKay, Loyola Coach Ryan Moran
“We were the 2012 National Champions in NCAA Division 1, ” said Loyola Head Coach Charley Toomie. He felt that the boys had not been playing as a team and the coaches wanted to do something to bring back the team comradery. As a part of the team bonding the coaches have been reading to the players the “The Hard Hat” by Jon Gordon. It is the true story of George Boiardi, a player from Cornell University who always went above and beyond what was asked and expected. If the coach asked his team to do 20 laps George would always do 21. He was always first in the locker room and last to leave, as he would clean up after his team. Unfortunately George was killed on the field as a result of being hit with a lacrosse ball. Coach Toomie remarked that the book has made a big difference in the boy’s attitudes. He highly recommended the book as a coaching tool (I have already ordered it for my son)
Ryan Eigenbrode is responsible for Loyola’s media coverage and has been posting all of the teams activities on twitter (@LoyolaMLAX) and their website (www.loyolagreyhounds.com) Ryan was telling me that the coaches are trying out different lines to see who gels and what sticks. They are looking for new leaders and a trip like this is a great way to see who takes some initiative. He estimated that less than 20% of Universities and Colleges take foreign trips like this but said he finds them highly effective. Being from Baltimore (the hotbed of lacrosse) with the Lacrosse Hall of Fame within a mile and a half from the University the team is extremely fortunate to have generous donors who donated 100% of the funds to make this team experience happen.
#45 Ryan Fournier- Hometown Ottawa, Ontario
The Loyola team has a few Canadians playing for them. Loyola’s #45 Ryan Fournier from Ottawa has been with the team for two years now. He says he loves the community feel you get from Loyola where he is taking Elementary Education. I was curious how he marketed himself to the U.S. Colleges and he said that he played on the Edge Travel Team out of Ontario and Team Ontario before he decided to completely commit to the sport and enroll at The Hill Academy in Vaughan Ontario (www.hillacademy.com). He did reclassify (redo his grade nine year) and said that although it is not necessary it does help you when it comes to recruitment. He did verbally commit to Sacred Heart at first in released himself from that commitment as Loyola was a better fit for him. Ryan had never been to the west coast of Canada before and said it had been an amazing experience thus far.
David Manning wearing #19 tore his meniscus and is just returning after six months of no lacrosse as a result of recovering from his injury. He said that the tour was a great way for him to ease into playing again while re-bonding with the team. He is a biology major who is applying to medical school to study to be a pediatrician.
Loyola offers many programs but Coach Toomie said that most of the players choose Loyola for its Business and Marketing programs as it is mainly a Liberal Arts school.
The tail end of the teams adventure has consisted of a visit to Vancouver where they played the Salmon Bellies Intermediate “A” team, tackled the Grouse Grind (quite a feat for some as Baltimore is predominantly flat) and visited the Capilano Bridge. They caught the ferry over to Victoria where they visited Butchart Gardens and took a whale watching tour experiencing both humpback and Orca’s up close. Today they played the Claremont Lacrosse Academy Senior boys coached by Claremont head coach and Athletic Director Darren Reisig and Coach Chris McKay. Coach Reisig takes every opportunity that arises to expose his players to lacrosse in the U.S. through tournaments and recruiting events. It is very rare that a Top Ten NCAA Divison 1 team visits Victoria and is willing to play a High School Academy Team. This is an incredible opportunity for the boys.
The entire Claremont Lacrosse Program was very excited to be involved in the game. The junior spectators were very excited to see a U.S. University Team and were commenting about their “swag” and size of some of the players. They were very attentive during the game watching and discussing every move and pass by the Loyola Team and the Claremont Seniors. It was nice to see some Claremont Alumni like Zach Christenson and Maclean Chiquen who have recently arrived home from their first years at U.S. Colleges out to watch the game.
The Senior Claremont team gave off a nervous energy before the game but once it started they did a great job battling their competition.
The end result was a 15-5 ( Claremont goals by David Byrne, Zach Manns, Eddie Smith and Colten Merilainen(2)) win for Loyola but a member of the Loyola Coaching Staff told me, that no other team on their tour had scored on them. Brad McCulley who is off to Robert Morriss University in a year was thrilled to hear that they were the first to score against them. “It shows the strength of our program,” he said. I asked him how he felt about the game. Brad said that it was a much faster pace than he was used to. “ They have no weak links”. “ If we made a mistake we paid for it”. Usually if we make a mistake it is fixable but in this case it wasn’t”. It forced us to be way more mentally aware of everything that was happening on the field”.
After sharing a pizza lunch the Seniors from Claremont were giving the Loyola team a mini box lacrosse clinic as they are just starting in some areas in the U.S. to play box lacrosse.
To end their tour the Loyola Team is off to Seattle where they will visit the Seattle Pier and take in the Mariners Yankee game before flying back to Baltimore. To take in some great lacrosse come out Wednesday June 3rd 8-4pm at Topaz Park in Victoria and watch B.C.’s Best. This is Western Canada’s Premiere recruiting event. Twenty- five plus U.S. Division 1&2 coaches will be watching the top field lacrosse players in B.C. in hopes of recruiting new talent for their programs.