by J.D. Crabtree
Whether or not you know what ‘ripping top cheddar’ is or who a ‘stick wizard’ might be is irrelevant when one takes a look at this year’s Sewanee Men’s Lacrosse team. One of the more exciting teams on campus, they have positioned themselves to have their best season yet here on the Mountain. Basically, if you are looking for a fireworks show to bring your kids to on a Saturday afternoon, look no further than McGee Field. It does not matter if you talk to Drew Lincoln (C’13) in his photography classes or Joe Irby (C’13) while he is fishing the Ocoee River, they all reek of anticipation when discussing the upcoming season.
An interesting characteristic that undoubtedly correlates with their potential success is that 11 seniors will suit up for the Tigers this spring, the most in their team history. Senior captain, Patrick Dudley, had this to say about this unique opportunity, “Having a strongly bonded, united group of seniors plays a major role in the strength of the team. We have played for the past four years together and have watched and participated in the growth of the program. It is very humbling to come from a 4-10 record to a 12-5 record in two years. It allows us to remember where we came from and the fighting we had to do to get where we are today.” The seniors include Charles Wadelington, Pierce Leonard, Marty Johnson, James Millard, Drew Lincoln, Palmer Simpson, John Raab Stiefel, Slater Ottenritter, Thomas Moore, Joe Irby, and Patrick Dudley. This group of seniors has undoubtedly set the foundation for the future of the lacrosse program.
The groundwork that the seniors have created resulted in a well-rounded, successful group of underclassmen as well. Dudley states that, “The team is comprised of many different players, personalities, and styles from across the country, which creates a unique bond. We have players from Maine, Florida, Illinois, and everywhere in between. We are a close knit group of guys who enjoy each other’s company, but at the same time we are not an exclusive clique. Everyone pursues their own interests, Greek affiliations, and extracurricular activities outside lacrosse. The team chemistry is refreshing because of its uniqueness and diversity.” That summary of balance and camaraderie would bring a tear to any coach’s eye across the nation.
Sewanee returns several starters from last year, along with some new faces. Tommy Healy (C’14) returns as goalie after a successful sophomore campaign of keeping airborne round objects from entering his net. The defense will see returnees Brandon Barrett (C’14), “The Innkeeper” Ottenritter, Dudley, and Weston Bradley (C’16 )on the field often. In midfield, Davis Brown (C’14) and Reed Daniel (C’14) will continue their Bonnie and Clyde act, wreaking havoc upon opposing teams. Veterans Millard and Irby will see substantial playing time along with young guns Cotter Brown (C’16) and Jack Murray (C’16). Irby’s forgiving and patient personality should provide these freshmen with a smooth transition to the college game. All-American Hal Smith (C’15) will continue to handle face-off duties. Defensive Midfield will consist of Moore, Richardson, and Johnson alongside Rory Devine (C’15) and Pete Rydell at long-stick midfield. Finally, the attack will consist of Leonard, Mike “Matinee” Morris (C’14), and Lincoln handling most of the offensive onslaught.
Recently Sewanee added a familiar face to Coach Watters’ staff in Jack Thomasson, a recent graduate from the University. Millard expressed that, “He brings a unique set of skills to our coaching staff as he’s one of our friends and former teammates, but he also has all of our respect because of the person he is and what he did for Sewanee lacrosse (all-time scoring leader).”
Times are typically slow and peaceful here on the mountain, but the lacrosse team has other ideas when opponents roll into town. Their fast-paced, intense playing style is evident from the very start of games. Somehow, through all the traffic of sticks, bodies, flow, and Old Spice Sewanee conjures a masterpiece of a goal that would humble Picasso. A piece of advice for opposing teams: The constant blitz only stops for whistles and buzzers, usually.