As we took the field against our alumni, we did not know what to expect. We figured that they would be out of shape, slow and not as sharp as they were back when they were putting on the maroon and white jerseys, declaring them part of the Springfield College men’s lacrosse team.
We learned quickly though that this was not the case, but many of the alumni we were facing off against had unknowingly kept up with their skills, endurance and had not lost the passion for the game of lacrosse that carried them through their individual collegiate careers.
Alumni such as Tom Albano, Jake Beebe, Chris Jez, Jake Jones and Sam Burrell, all members of the class of 2009, stepped onto Stagg Field, and just as they did five years ago, dominated.
In 2009, the Springfield College lacrosse team had a very successful season. Finishing 12-7 overall and 8-1 at home, but the season was cut short after losing in the second round of the NCAA Tournament to Cortland State, 15-12. Despite the loss, Beebe and Albano led the Pride to one of the best seasons in recent history.
Beebe finished the season with 87 points and earned All-American honors as the Pride captain. As for the present, the Sudbury, Mass. native now plays professionally for the Boston Cannons of Major League Lacrosse (MLL).
Upon graduation, Beebe was able to return to Springfield as an assistant coach for the Pride, as well as completing his graduate studies in Athletic Administration. Through two seasons, Beebe, along with Coach Keith Bugbee and defensive assistant Tim Robbins, led the Pride to successful seasons, making the NCAA Tournament twice.
“I think it is an awesome tradition [the alumni game],” said Beebe. “It is nice to be able to come back and hang with old friends and be able to play some lacrosse while you’re at it too.”
Albano, now coaching Ramapo High School in New Jersey, also joined the collegiate ranks upon graduation. The former Pride goalkeeper took the graduate assistant position with a D-III program at Manhattanville College in New York.
When head coach Todd Hodgson left Manhattanville, Albano was favored to be next in line to take over the team. However, the Athletics Department decided to hire another Springfield College graduate in Kevin Warnock.
Although no longer in the college ranks, Albano is still displaying his passion for the game of lacrosse with Ramapo HS while also keeping his skills fresh enough to keep our team from outscoring the alumni.
“It’s a blast, it’s always fun coming back [and] meeting the new kids,” Albano told me. “We’re not at the same talent level as you guys anymore, but it’s good to come back and help support the new team.”
As successful as the team was in 2009, last season was the most memorable for me. Although the season did not end the way we would have liked, we dominated our regular season schedule, finished with a record of 13-4 and were ranked 14th nationally. We defeated teams such as Middlebury, Nazareth, Amherst College and rival Western New England. Much of our success was due to the leadership provided by the senior class.
Shane Ferguson and Mike Delia were tabbed as Honorable Mention All-American’s and returned to Stagg Field Saturday night to showcase their talents against us instead of on our side of the ball as we were used to. Also playing was midfielder Eric Balslov, long-stick midfielder Tyler O’Keefe and defenseman Jason Ohnsman.
O’Keefe, along with 2011 graduate Shawn Runyon, have taken on the role of defensive and offensive coaches this season.
On the defensive side of things, O’Keefe is assisted by Ohnsman and 2010 graduate, Vinny Senatore. Runyon has teamed up with Balslov and 2010 graduate Joe Heney at the helm of the highly-skilled offense that we have this season.
Prominently involved in our offense in 2013 will be sophomore attackman Dylan Sheehan. Sheehan had quite the freshman campaign last season. He strung together 32 goals and 11 assists in our offense that averaged just over 12 goals a game. For Sheehan, it was interesting playing in the alumni game, for he did not get to play with many of the people on the opposing side. Being a rather new face on campus, Sheehan found playing with these guys to be interesting.
“It was a pretty cool experience,” said our crease attackman from Massapequa, N.Y. “It was interesting seeing guys who have been through our system. It makes me excited for the future, because most of the alumni are coaches now.”
A while back, Coach Bugbee was featured in Lacrosse Magazine as being the “Don” of the mafia he has created in the coaching world. In other words, a lot of alumni that played for Bugbee at SC have carried on to become both collegiate, high school, prep school and even youth coaches. Every year Bugbee welcomes back all of these guys and gladly has them square up against us.
“This is one game that I don’t really worry about the score or how we did. I just like to enjoy it,” Bugbee told me. “So many times you get caught up in trying to win and be perfect, but I think for one night you just need to step back and have a little fun.”
As for me, I have been around this program for four years now, so I know what to expect. It was nice to see the players that I looked up to when I was brand new to the “Chief Dog” way of life. I also believe that it was nice for them to see how my hard work has contributed to the player I have developed into today.
In my eyes, the alumni game is a great event for our team. For so much of the fall season,we are working hard on and off the field, putting in so much time and effort to be as successful as our predecessors. Therefore, when we all step onto our precious game field between the Townhouses and the Wellness Center, it is nice to just relax, smile, and have a good time, while also playing the game that we all know and love.
Jon Santer will be a senior and a captain for the Pride in 2013.
The Pride open on Feb. 20 at Gordon College.