By Sydney Windell, Contributor
Current status? Sixteen. All-time record? Seventeen. Goal? Twenty-five.
The Bellarmine University lacrosse program has historically been the most diverse team on campus in regards to the number of players who come from different states. The 2016 team represents 16 states, and two Canadian provinces.
This diversity may seem like a respectable number considering how small the university is and where it is located. But head coach Kevin Burns admittedly wants more.
“My secret goal is I want guys from half the states in the country. I think that would be kind of fun to have that,” Burns said.
Jack McGetrick started the lacrosse program in 2005, and since then, the team has seen athletes from 25 states, four provinces in Canada, Finland and Australia. Having lacrosse players from all over North America has provided many benefits on and off the field.
Dylan Sprock, originally from Denton, Texas, is a junior defensemen on the team. He said that Bellarmine’s team has an interesting dynamic with players from different backgrounds.
“It is going to be awesome when we get older because pretty much anywhere I go, I will have someone that I can call and catch up with from the college lacrosse days here at Bellarmine,” Sprock said.
The friendships made while scooping up ground balls and racing down the field has paid off for graduating seniors looking for jobs as well.
“We’ve had guys get jobs all over the place, and they end up maybe living with an alumni’s family or something,” Burns said.
Burns said that there have been times when a teammate’s mother or father knows someone who knows someone, and that connection leads to a job for a graduating senior.
But the perks do not stop there. The lacrosse team travels as far as Providence, Rhode Island, but Bellarmine road games feel a little more like home with the support of nearby parents and families.
“The parents’ group does a really great job of taking care of the guys when we are on the road, doing some tailgates and stuff like that,” Burns said. “They always have ‘point people’ at each spot so whoever is the closest will usually step up and serve as a type of host family.”
Junior attack man Tucker Ciessau grew up in Massachusetts and said that having supporters at away games is especially nice when playing near a hometown or against old teammates.
“My parents were able to host the post game tailgate for the Providence game, and it made me feel right at home with lots of family and friends there,” he said.
Not very many aspects of this Bellarmine team can be defined as customary. Kentucky is not a so-called “hot bed” for lacrosse, and that has caused Burns to turn to a non-traditional way of recruiting.
“With us, a four-hour radius doesn’t really cover it because of where we are located. If you draw a bigger circle that covers more area, we can pull guys from Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee and those places,” Burns said.
With lacrosse being a historically East Coast sport, Burns and his coaching staff attend multiple recruiting tournaments in areas such as Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. Athletes from all over the United States travel to these camps, giving coaches the chance to see a wide variety of players all in one place.
Athletes such as Andrew Schoeneck, originally from Penfield, New York, had never even heard of Bellarmine before a recruiting tournament.
“It wasn’t until a lacrosse tournament in Maryland that the coach saw me and gave me a call afterward,” he said.
Burns said programs such as Robert Morris and Syracuse typically pull players from a small geographic circle because of the vast amount talent in close proximity. So their rosters have very few “imports,” whereas Bellarmine’s roster features mostly players from outside Bellarmine’s regular recruitment area. This geographic diversity is good thing, Burns said.
“I think it brings them closer together when they get here because it’s not the same guys that they played against in high school,” Burns said. “As they explore the city together and get to know each other a little better, I think it helps bring the team together as a whole because we are all in the same boat.”
With players from different regions come different styles of play. For example, Burns said that a player from a less traditional area might be a much better overall athlete, while a player from a more traditional area may be someone with a great lacrosse IQ.
“I think some guys bring different things to the table,” Burns said. “It’s neat to see the different pieces of that get put together.”
Guys like Schoeneck and Sprock may have never met without Bellarmine. Now Louisville, Kentucky, is their temporary home, but they have formed a lifelong friendship.