Mercer Lacrosse Builds For the Future
When Mercer University decided to start a men's lacrosse program back in 2009 they had a very specific goal in mind.
"It's all about recruiting and getting great young student athletes here and students. This allows us an opportunity to get into High Schools that we haven't had a presence before," says Jim Cole, MU Athletics Director.
The program just finished up its inaugural season and the recruiting tactic is working to perfection.
"We have kids from Long Island. We have kids from Maryland, kids from Kansas, from Colorado. Next year we're bringing in a young man from California so, you know, we're going to be coast to coast here pretty soon. And we're excited about that," says Jason Childs, MU Lacrosse Head Coach.
Aside from the recruiting benefits, Mercer has a chance to make a name for themselves as the only Division I men's lacrosse program in Georgia. To find success they needed the right man for the job.
"You try to find that strong leader that can take a program from its infant stages to a winning program," says Cole.
Jason Childs is the leader Mercer chose. A young coach who had previously started a program at Presbyterian College. Childs has been tasked with building the program from the ground up and it's been a season full of growing pains that should pay off as these young players develop.
"We're so young that we need to learn how to do everything. There's no instruction book for these kids to read and say okay if we do this, if we hit power we can play great. I think there's a lot of growing going on. Me as a coach, I'm 33 as a head coach, I can learn a lot. They are 18 as players, we have one kid who's 17, he's a player. They can learn a lot," says Childs.
The Bears won only once in their inaugural season, a 4 point victory over Carthage, but hopes are still high for a team that has only one upper classman on its 35 man roster.
"I think by now to the end of our senior year it's going to be a huge improvement. It's going to keep getting better from year to year to year," says Justin Bateman, MU Goalkeeper.
A difficult challenge stands before a determined bunch of young players and their coach thinks they'll all be better men because of it.
"They'll remember this as probably one of the most special things they've ever done," says Childs.