Spring is here. Mornings begin earlier and the days last longer. This is especially true for the nation’s 23rd-ranked Fords lacrosse team, whose spring season is defined by early morning lifts and shooting sessions.
“We’ve done a lot,” Coach Brendan Dawson said. “The guys work every day with [Strength and Conditioning Coach Mr. Matt] Rosko.”
Though strenuous, Sixth Form leaders took this training in stride.
Highlighting his teammates’ collective effort, Sixth Form captain Brennan McBride said, “My favorite off-season moment was our last morning workout of the winter. It was by far one of the hardest workouts that I have ever been through, but knowing that all my teammates were with me suffering and getting better made it truly special.”
The Fifth Formers have put in their share of effort as well.
“We’ve also been working extremely hard,” Fifth Former Colby Kim said. “We have 7:00 a.m. conditioning workouts every Wednesday.”
Additionally, Coach Dawson implemented a new testing program to complement and track the progress of off-season gains.
“We now do a stick-work test, a weight-room test, and a conditioning test at the beginning and end of the season,” Kim said.
This progress tracker serves as one of the more minor adjustments to a program which has seen significant personnel changes. Coach Dawson has taken the head coach mantle while stepping into the role of assistant athletic director.
“[Former head] Coach Nostrant and I share a lot of the same beliefs about how the game should be played as far as philosophies,” Coach Dawson said, “including a tough-love approach to constructive criticism.”
“I tell guys all the time, ‘Facts aren’t insults.’ When we point things out as a staff, we’re not criticizing you as a person, but we’re trying to make our team better.”
The players treat this feedback as an opportunity to grow as athletes and teammates.
“I focus on the things I can control. I know that there will be strong results.”Geordy Holmes ’21
Fifth Former Geordy Holmes keeps his perspective in check.
“I focus on the things I can control,” Holmes said. “I know that there will be strong results.”
The lacrosse team has walked a winning path for years, collecting championships and securing numerous top-ten placements in national rankings. This year, however, the team failed to break into the top-twenty teams in Inside Lacrosse’s preseason coaches poll. Ranked below Malvern Prep and many other rivals, the 2020 Fords are underdogs.
Eagles Center Jason Kelce embodied the attitude of the Haverford lacrosse team in his speech at the 2018 Super Bowl Parade: “We’re all a bunch of underdogs,” he said, describing his Eagles teammates. “And you know what an underdog is? It’s a hungry dog.”
The Fords are ready to eat, ready to take down powerhouse teams, ready to recapture their deserved ranking. But they know they need to focus on the present.
Coach Dawson said, “The biggest game is always the one right in front of us because it’s the next one.”
“We don’t care if our opponent is unranked or ranked number one in the country,” Fifth Former Quintin Campbell said. “We stick to our own game and play Haverford School Lacrosse.”
There must be no looking ahead to the Friars, no thoughts of the overseeded New Jersey or Maryland squads. The Fords will take care of business one workout, one practice, and one game at a time.
Campbell explained the effect of the preseason rankings.
“It adds some extra motivation to an already hungry team,” Campbell said, “a chip on our shoulder, you might say.”
The Fords will use this chip on their shoulder, coupled with Sixth Form leadership, to guide them to the promised land.
“This is our last go-round as Fords,” McBride said. “We want to do everything humanly possible to achieve our goals as a team this season.”
Colby Kim knows the team’s potential.
“We are a dangerous team,” Kim said. “The sky’s our limit.”