by Jac Coyne | MCLA.us
LA CROSSE, Wis. – Terrible shooting. Suspect defense. Sore hamstrings.
We’re coming to the close of the annual alumni-game season for MCLA programs, and the above is what happened as our former players returned to campus to give the current squad a run.
The game is worth it, though.
There will be recent grads who put up some numbers. Couple of goals. A pretty crease feed. Maybe a BTB just to let the youngsters know what’s up.
One of the d-poles in his mid-30s will pick off a pass and quickly dish it off as his breath runs out, followed by a former teammate screaming from the sideline, “He’s still got it!”
Rusty gates. Impossible wrap checks. Dip and dunks. It’s all on display.
The funny thing about alumni games is the actual contest – the action between the lines – is the least important part of the weekend.
One of the keys to a consistent MCLA program is a strong and organized alumni group, so just their presence on campus is a victory.
Ask any coach at a traditionally powerful program, regardless of the division, and they will tell you about the significance of an engaged and proud set of past players.
Once an alumni group is established and running smoothly, it can be utilized with relative ease, especially with the many platforms available to connect.
For instance, I posted the Montana schedule on this site and within an hour it had been shared on the Grizzlies’ alumni group on Facebook. It undoubtedly went up on other platforms to ensure that every era of former player was instantly made aware of this year’s slate.
It’s critical to keep past players invested in their former program. The most obvious reason is the monetary power that graduates can bring to bear if the team is need of something.
There are countless examples of alums stepping up and assisting their team in a pinch.
The secondary benefit for both the alums and the current players is a sense of fraternity. Ten-hour bus rides and 5 a.m. practices create a camaraderie that lasts far past grabbing a diploma. When current players sense that from their elders, the cycle repeats itself.
Some grads may feel an affinity for the particular institution or the friends they made there, but the relationships created on the lacrosse field tend to supersede any of that.
Alums play in the alumni game because there is a bond that may fade, but will never disappear.
That’s why they return.
That’s why they are at the post-alumni game tailgate, their knees and shoulders wrapped in ice, telling stories from ‘02. Your program is important to them. The current players are important to them.
Every team should make sure they are tapping into this vital asset.
SLIDES & RIDES
- The 2023 MCLA National Championships presented by New Balance will take place from May 8-13 at the Round Rock (Texas) Multipurpose Complex. Mark your calendar.
- Coaches, if you’d like to schedule a non-MCLA school on MCLA.us, send the program(s) to [email protected] for inclusion on the backend. Schedules are due on the backend by December 1 while rosters/certification are due a week before the first MCLA game.