Men’s lacrosse cancels D1 season

With coach resignation, team opts for scrimmage schedule

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Men’s lacrosse cancels D1 season

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With dwindling numbers, and the departure of head coach Matt Day, the SNC Tahoe’s men’s lacrosse team is faced with a tough decision: play the upcoming Division 1 schedule of games with barely enough boys to field a team, or play a scrimmage schedule to save the safety and sanity of the team?

The decision was made by Athletic Director Chris DeLeon. The verdict? Instead of facing a challenging D1 schedule of games for the first time this spring, the men’s lacrosse team will be playing a scrimmage schedule.

What Happened?

Head Coach Matt Day made a public announcement that he was resigning from the position of head coach, as well as the position of assistant athletic director. The timing came as a shock to many. With only a week before the official start of the season, then-assistant coach Dylon Fangmeier was promoted to head coach.
In the fall semester, the men’s lacrosse team had a roster of 21 players. Some of those players transferred, or had too low of grades to play. Then, Day left. Emotions were high, and many players felt jaded by the departure of Day. Some felt as if Day had abandoned them, some felt that the timing of his departure was too weird.

However, at the first practice of this spring season, there was still a verbal commitment of 16-18 players. As practices continued to be held, the numbers dropped quickly to only 12-13 players. Those who quit the team were mostly upperclassme, and there was roughly 7 of them that quit.

DeLeon and Fangmeier were faced with a tough decision: try to play a season with barely enough players to field a team, or cancel the season and just play scrimmages.

Men’s Lacrosse requires 10 players on the field at a time; 3 attackmen, 3 defensemen, 3 midfielders, and a goalie.

Important to know what the implication is for 1) conference membership, 2) future conference membership.

In a Facebook post, Chris DeLeon explained his rationale. “I must make this decision with a heavy heart but also for the safety of the lacrosse boys.” In an interview, DeLeon shared many of the same ideas. The decision was not one he had ever planned on making. He talked to other lacrosse coaches, including SNC’s first men’s lacrosse coach Bruce Meierdiercks.

“I reached out to a handful of coaches just to see if it was possible, to play this schedule with as few players as we have,” said DeLeon. The consensus was that it wasn’t plausible. That’s when it was time for DeLeon to make the tough call of ending the season.

DeLeon feels like all of his athletes are his ki sense, and he didn’t feel safe sending only 12 or 13 boys to face against a tough D1 schedule of games.

“Having one goalie and maybe two subs is not safe physically or mentally at division 1 or any other level,” said DeLeon. There was a possibility the team would be still played its full schedule if all of the initial 16-18 players had remained fully committed.

DeLeon is still confident in the program. He kept reiterating that he has a lacrosse budget and plans on using it for the players still committed to the team. The team is not collapsing, DeLeon states, and the team still has recruits coming in the fall.

As for the future of the program participating in MCLA, and the WCLL conference, there are no answers. DeLeon has been in communication with them, asking for the bylaws for a few weeks. Until DeLeon can get the bylaws, it is up in the air as to if the team will be able to continue in the conference in future years.

“I’ve been trying to get ahold of the bylaws for a while, because [Matt] Day pushed the team to Division 1, and no one talked to me, or anyone else at the school. They only talked to Day,” said DeLeon.

MLCA could not be contacted for a comment.

The departure of Day left the team confused. Some stayed, some went, but every choice was made for personal reasons.

Players Who Stayed

Freshman Sean Kimura and sophomore Chandler Peck shared their thoughts on the season.

“We’re a little disappointed,” the boys said. “It feels like a waste of a year.”

“Feels like a waste of a year, waste of hard work. Feels like we got the short end of the stick, and like we were given up on,” said Peck.

“We were promised a lot,” Kimura said. Both boys feel like they received a lot of talk, with no follow through.

“We could have done something with this team this season, but you have to do what you have to do,” said Peck.

*pull quote? When asked why they stayed, Kimura stated, “next year is a new year.” He’s eager to see what the team can do.

Although both players feel like SNC isn’t providing the program it should, neither has plans to transfer. They understand that this year was just as frustrating for them as it was for the upperclassmen.
Some of their frustration lies with the team moving to Division 1.

“We shouldn’t have gone D1. We don’t have the numbers for D1. We have good enough players, but not the numbers,” said Peck. “I think we could have done this season if we had stayed D2.”

Both players agree that if the team had stayed committed, and with the addition of next year’s recruits, they could have an excellent team for next season.

“You have to do what you have to do. I understand why [DeLeon] made the choice he did. He saved us. It’s not that we wanted to redshirt, but he saved our scholarships and our eligibility by making the choice he did,” said Peck.

Although the situation isn’t ideal, the boys are being lighthearted about it all. They’ve found more time to ski and snowboard, and even made the comment “looks like the snowbirds will be snow bums this year.”

Why I Left

“Upperclassmen have it worse than anyone,” said Peck, as the upperclassmen have faced their share of adversities.

For the juniors on the team, Fangmeier is their third head coach in three years. There are no seniors on the team.

One player wanted to share his experience, and how is loyalty was to himself.
“Before school started, I got a call from Day saying he was leaving. I guess we kind of all knew it was a possibility, but we didn’t think it was going to happen,” said the upperclassmen player.
This player, who wishes to stay anonymous, was found in a whirlwind of thoughts. He made up his mind, and decided not to play this season. He was one of many who decided not to play, which resulted in the team playing the scrimmage schedule.

“If we had stayed, there would have been a full season,” he said. “I had to ask myself though, should I stay and play, or should I save my eligibility?”

Not only did Day leave before the season, but a key attackman left at semester, as well as one of the captains..

“I’ve never really been fully committed to SNC. I don’t have the same kind of time that the freshman do, so I wanted to save my eligibility and go to a different school,” he said.

“I want a program that will give me what I have given SNC,” he said.

“I know I want to continue to play lacrosse post-grad, and SNC can’t get me there.”

He knew that if him and a few of the other older players would have stayed, they would have had a full season. Facing a D1 schedule without Day seemed too overwhelming. However, the boys that did stay are practicing just as much as they would have during a normal season, but scrimmaged only six times. A normal, regular season has roughly 14 games.
He felt as if no one was angry with him, just the situation. Day leaving was a big deal.

“[Day] was doing so much for this school. He brought in the athletes study hall that drastically improved GPAs,” said the upperclassman. “He dealt with so much. I remember in the fall, when we went to the tournament in Las Vegas, accounts payable didn’t have any money on the team’s credit card so Day paid for it out of pocket. He went broke.”

“Day always told me that I don’t owe anyone anything. I don’t owe the other players anything, but they deserve better than this. This situation just sucks.”

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