The University of Indianapolis men’s lacrosse team is 101 days away from the program’s first game. On Feb. 20, the Greyhounds will travel to Mars Hill, N.C., to compete against Mars Hill College and begin the team’s inaugural season.
Representing the Greyhounds are three upperclassmen and 28 freshmen who are eager to start the season. One of them is junior Jimmy Smith.
“Being a little more experienced at the college level, I’ve still never been on a team with as much of a work ethic that this team has. So I’m excited to see all that pay off this spring and in the future,” he said.
Despite freshman Matthew Johnson’s excitement about actually beginning the season, he recognizes that with all collegiate ball, there is some adjusting to do.
“[The biggest difference from high school is] definitely the size of the players. The speed of it is completely different— way faster. The defense checks really well,” Johnson said. “There’s a big learning curve from high school going into college, just that everyone knows what they’re doing so it’s a lot faster. The offenses move quicker, and everything just happens a lot faster. So it’s just way different than high school. I love it. It’s awesome so far.”
Head Men’s Lacrosse Coach Greg Stocks shares that same excitement as his players, and he’s ready to test the talent.
“I’m excited to go and see it, too. It’s fun coaching, and I like practice and everything, but I want to go out and compete against other schools,” he said. “I’m really excited for the spring semester and getting at it, and knowing that we’re practicing and there is a game at the end of the week, rather than three [to] four months from now.”
The team is not only a first for UIndy, but also a first for the state at the Division II level.
“I think it’s special. There’s a lot of first, and not just on campus. We’re the state’s first division two program, and it is exciting to kind of go out and be a pioneer in the area,” Stocks said. “… We’re the only school in the greater Indianapolis area that sponsors men’s lacrosse, so it’s not just a school thing, it’s kind of a city and state pride thing as well that we’re looking to carry.”
Smith is looking forward to what Stocks can do with yet another new program. At Lake Erie College, he also started a brand new program.
“It’s one of the reasons I came here,” Smith said. “I thought it would be cool to come to a first-year program. And he [Stocks] did a great job at Lake Erie bringing that program up, so I know he knows what he’s doing. So I figured in a couple of years he’ll do the same thing with this program.”
The biggest challenge the new Greyhounds will face will be the learning curve, but once the team grasps what it means to be a student and a lacrosse player they will be successful on and off the field said Stocks.
“I think a lot of our success will hinge on more of the learning factor,” Stocks said, “especially this first year with picking up really good traits on the field, off the field, conditioning, studywise, just being an all-around student athlete. And then once they’ve got that down, the talent is there to be really successful and grow very quickly as a program.”
Even with that obstacle, Johnson is ready to make history at UIndy.
“I mean, you just start off being the first one to set all of the records,” Johnson said “And being able to start off as something special [is special in itself].”
The Greyhounds had a small taste of what their spring season would be like when they traveled to Cleveland for some fall ball. UIndy went 2-1 on the day, and that was more than enough to get Smith prepared for the spring.
He said, “I’m looking forward to winning some games.”