Looking to grow their club team after its launch three years ago was derailed by COVID, the coach and players of Fitchburg State University’s men’s lacrosse club team had modest hopes for the 2023 season. That made winning the division title in their club lacrosse conference on April 30 all the sweeter.
Daniel Ferdinand, a senior from Boston, called the season a roller coaster. While the club team was able to use the university’s athletic facilities when they were available, they didn’t have the same access as its varsity teams. They faced challenges with the roster, starting the season with 35 players but ending up with just 25. The season was also disrupted by weather and other teams on their schedule disbanding.
Coach Otis Falvey agreed it was a challenging year but reflected resilience by the athletes. “When we got together for the first time in the fall, I asked what they wanted out of playing this season and the overall consensus was to not just to win the championship but to have a respected winning program,” he said. “These guys were determined to not just be another team in the league but wanted to be a program that people respected for how they played.”
The players worked hard and were indeed able to compete, winning games against more established programs, and ultimately taking the divisional crown.
“It was a surreal feeling,” Ferdinand said. “We knew we wanted this from the start. We knew we could get here and we came and we executed.”
Falvey said he hopes the success of the club team this year helps the program grow. “We hope that the students currently on campus that thought their playing career was over come out this fall and that high school players looking to continue their careers can apply here knowing there is a team for them,” the coach said. “I’m just proud of these guys, especially the seniors, who were freshmen playing with me the first time we tried having a team, and I’m just fortunate I had the privilege to work with them this season.”
Falvey said he was grateful for the university’s support of the team, including the encouragement of advisor John Crawley, a professor in the Business Administration Department. “Whenever times got tough or things started to look gloomy, I knew I could go to Professor Crawley for some positive thoughts and proper guidance and can’t thank him enough,” Falvey said.
“I am very proud of these young men, the way they have carried themselves and the way they have endured,” said Crawley, who enjoyed a classroom visit from the winning team after the championship game.
Ferdinand, who is graduating this month, hopes to see the program grow and eventually become a varsity sport on campus. “We know we have the talent to compete,” he said. “It inspires us to want to do more, play harder and be better. I can see this team winning again next year."
For more information about the university's varsity athletics programs, please visit fitchburgfalcons.com.