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April 08, 2002 - Image 16

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-04-08

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8B - The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - April 8, 2002


Virtually varsi

FRIDAY: MIlClnGAN 1 3, t.M zxiAio S ;
Lax inhospitable in
three weekend wins




By Steve Jackson
Daily Sports Editor
A nagging Achilles tendon injury
and a broken toe couldn't stop junior
midfielder Chip Thomas from leading
the Michigan lacrosse team to its
biggest win in years.
Friday night, in front of more than
700 fans in Oosterbaan Field House,
Thomas made his triumphant return to
the field, scoring a career-high five
goals to lead the Wolverines to a 13-9
upset over No. 3 Colorado State - the
defending national champion.
"I was really excited to be back,"
said Thomas, who had been sidelined
for the previous three weeks and was
still playing through the pain. "It was
the one game that I really really wanted
everything to click."
The Wolverines were clicking all
weekend long, winning their three
games at the Michigan Invitational. No.
7 Michigan defeated No. 13 Texas
A&M, 14-7, on Saturday and No. 12
Buffalo, 12-4, yesterday afternoon.
"This was a great weekend for us,"
Michigan coach John Paul said. "The
Colorado State game was a big step for
our program. We want to make this a
tough place for teams to play."
The Wolverines have won 10 straight
at home and 36 straight in their confer-
ence, the Central Collegiate Lacrosse
But the Colorado State win was
especially meaningful to the Wolver-
ines, as they had never beaten the Rams
before. Colorado State is also the only
visiting team to leave Oosterbaan with
a win in the past three years.
"I don't know that they've ever con-
sidered us a rivalry before, but they
may have to pretty soon," Paul said.
Junior midfielder Brian Marchena
started the scoring after he received
a great feed from junior attacker
Sloan Buchan-McGilliard, who
teammates like to call "pocket Her-

cules" for his powerful build and
short stature.
The Wolverines got off to a great
start against the Rams, jumping out to a
4-1 lead 11 minutes into the game.
"That's always important," Paul said.
"But in a big game like this against a
really emotional team like Colorado
State, that fast start was especially key."
The Wolverines easily could have
been trailing 4-1 at that point, if not for
the stellar performance of junior goalie
Sooman Kim. Kim made 14 saves on
the day, including several point-blank
denials in the game's opening minutes.
"Sooman played an outstanding
game," Paul said. "He sometimes has a
tendency to lapse, but in warm-ups I
could see that he was completely
focused. When he gets that fire in his
eye, he's tough to beat."
Michigan also took advantage of
Colorado State's penalties, converting a
season-high five of its eight man-up
"We knew they were a physical.
team, and we knew they were going to
give us penalties," Paul said. "We spent
all week working on our man-up sets,
and it paid off."
The Wolverines never trailed in the
contest, which was quite frustrating for
the Rams, who came in expected to
win easily.
During a break in the action late in
the game, Colorado State junior Joe
Glischinski screamed at his teammates:
"This is gut check time. We are not
going tolose - not to this team!"
Less than 10 seconds later, reality
struck the Rams when Thomas scored
the game-winner - his fifth goal of
the night - to put the Wolverines up
"We came in here thinking that we
were better than we really are," Col-
orado State coach Flip Naumberg said.
"Michigan is a great team. They out-
worked us, they out groundballed us,
and they deserved to win tonight."

Michigan midfleider Jason Gal does his best to secure the ball while being Illegally checked by his Buffalo opponent yesterday.
Gal notched a hat trick in Saturday's game against Texas A&M.
The premier lacrosse club west of the Appalachians is in no
rush to make the move to full varsity status ... yet
By David Horn and Steve Jackson Daily Sports Editors

Lacrosse's bosses
Michigan coach John Paul is pleased that this year's team, after losing 90 per-
cent of its scoring power to graduation last year, has found a balanced attack
on offense. Here's a look at who has shared in the responsibilities of scoring,
and what Paul has to say about them:
Ryan Clark Junior Attacker No. 3
21 goals 17 assists 38 points
JP: His emergence has been a blessing. Attack was the biggest question mark at the beginning of the season,
and Ryan has been a difference maker for us this year.
Jeff Hanna Sophomore Attacker No. 21
27 goals 4 assists 31 points
JP: After all of our losses on attack, we knew that we had Jeff there to step up, but we didn't know that he
would be this good. He has been one of the biggest reasons why we have been so successful this season.
Chip Thomas Junior Midfielder No. 7
21 goals 10 assists 31 points
JP: Chip is a really smart kid. We moved him to (midfield) last year, and he just keeps getting better. We are
just scratching the service with Chip.
Sooman Kim Junior Goalie No. 34
6.55 GPG 70 saves .565 pct.
JP: Sooman has been a constant for us. He made big saves whenever we needed them in the Colorado State

There was one question on every
fan's mind this weekend at
Oosterbaan Field House: When
will Michigan initiate a varsity
lacrosse program?
"Speaking with my head and not
my heart ... I'd say 10 to 20 years,"
Michigan coach John Paul said.
"They have a ton of facilities issues
and other things that need to be
addressed right now."
Paul worked in the athletic depart-
ment for years before he finally
became a full-time coach three years
ago. That experience gave him an
appreciation for the difficulties asso-
ciated with funding a program. As a
result, he is not the least bit bitter
about the relationship between his
program and the athletic department.
"We have never been pushing for
varsity status because that just isn't
financially possible right now," Paul
said. "I'm very happy with our sup-
port. (Michigan Athletic Director) Bill
Martin has done a great job of listen-
ing to our situation and giving us the
assistance we need."
Paul and coach Gregg Hartsuff of
the men's crew team went to see Mar-
tin shortly after he took over the ath-
letic director position in 2000, and
that meeting helped to create the new
"varsity club" status for two pro-
grams. That status enabled the them to
get hundreds of thousands of dollars
from the athletic department along
with access to other services, like aca-
demic counseling, career planning,

media relations and marketing.
"We have a bigger travel budget
and a bigger equipment budget than a
lot of the true varsity programs here,"
Paul said. "But the academic support
is the most important thing for us."
Expanded medical coverage is the
next issue that Paul is looking to
acquire for his program. The team
currently has a trainer on hand for
games, but players must go to an out-
side sports clinic and pay to treat
long-term injuries.
"It's the little things that impress
me most," Paul said. "If you look,
they painted our lines on this field.
(Michigan football coach Lloyd) Carr
said no, but the people in Martin's
office overruled him. That's really
impressive to me because nothing
overrules football around here."
This commitment to supporting
lacrosse has led many followers of the
sport to view the Wolverines as the
premier western club program in the
Last year, Notre Dame became the
first lacrosse team from west of the
Appalachians to make it to the NCAA
Final Four. It was a symbolic occur-
rence that speaks to the westward
expansion of the sport and the
inevitable rise of lacrosse at schools
in states that lack a lacrosse tradition.
What has traditionally been a sport for
the prep-school elite of New York,
Maryland and Massachusetts is

spreading both geographically and
Michigan, in a sense, is a sleeping
giant, and it is the team in the west
that may rise the farthest and fastest
once it eventually becomes a varsity
"The whole lacrosse world would
love to see (a varsity program) here,"
Paul said. "Michigan is already draw-
ing East Coast kids. Everybody thinks
of this place and the mystique about
athletics here. It would be a natural,
and this program could be a top-five
program. Everybody really thinks that
this is the program in the west: If it is
added, that could very quickly be a
Syracuse or Virginia."
In recent years the program has
grown considerably, evolving from a
team of mostly novice players
involved in what was very much a
club sport to one of the elite club pro-
grams in the country, fielding kids
who are nearly as talented as many of
the best players nationally.
The talent "is picking up every
year," Paul said. "For one thing, we're
Michigan. Every coach says that but
its true: Kids come here because it's
Michigan. For another, our program is
getting better and better, and we get a
lot of national media attention in the
lacrosse world so kids know about us,
and they know this is a great pro-
Never underestimate the appeal of
Ann Arbor. For junior midfielder
Chip Thomas, the prospect of spend-
ing four years in Lancaster, Penn. or
Schenectady, N.Y was enough to lead
him toward becoming a Wolverine.
"I was planning on playing at some
D-III schools out east - Trinity,
Union, Franklin & Marshall - but I
talked to (Paul) and he said that the
competitive level is pretty much
exactly the same (as D-III). It's
incredible. And we still get to have
some social life, so it's the best of
both worlds," Thomas said.
"Obviously the kids getting recruit-
ed hard by Syracuse and Virginia are
not coming here," Paul said. "But if
they're getting recruited by a middle-
of-the-road D-I school and they can
get the whole package here - a great
experience on a winning team and a
Michigan education - they're going
to come here."
Paul sees his program as an impor-
tant part of the process of lacrosse's
westward expansion. He feels it's
important that young players have an
opportunity to see competitive
lacrosse, and the increase in the
sport's popularity in southeastern
Michigan in recent years may be a
direct'result of Michigan's efforts.
.*. .a oiri m;Aaahn

could be the
model for a
new lacrosse
L acrosse has always seemed to
me to be a sport for upper
middle-class white boys who
were somehow too Abercrombified
to play soccer and tennis and golf
like the rest of us upper middle-class
white boys.
I grew up in upstate New York -
the sport's Mecca
- but all my
life, lacrosse has
been this off-put-
ting afterthought
in my considera-
tion of American
sports. It is seen
by many as a
leisure activity, DAVID
reserved for privi-
leged preppies - HORN
polo for guys who Tooting
don't like to ride my own
on horses. That
view is pretty
common in the east, I think. Some
guys play lacrosse and absolutely
love it; a lot of other guys don't get
it and resent the sport and its cul-
But what about here in the Mid-
west? I got a chance to take a look at
the Michigan lacrosse team this past
weekend, and it reminded me that
lacrosse is a lot of fun and deserves
to receive more attention. It is at
least as good a game as soccer in
terms of complicity, pace, necessary
skill and required athleticism.
There's scoring, which Americans
can't do without and a degree of
contact and violence that would
surely satisfy the popular appetite
when football and hockey (tame as
they really are) go into hibernation.
My hope is that, as lacrosse
spreads in popularity west of the
Appalachian Mountains (where it
has been, until recently, relatively
unknown), a new generation of ath-
letes will find a way to make it a
game for everyone.
Currently, there are 37 players on
the Wolverines' active roster; 18 hail
from Connecticut, New Jersey, New
York, Massachusetts or Maryland.
Not only are they predominantly
New Englanders, but they are also
from some of the nation's wealthiest
hamlets like Chappaqua, N.Y. and
Weston, Mass. They went to schools
at places like Fordham Prep. and
Milton Academy. Not to take any-
thing away from these Michigan ath-
letes, but in a way they represent
that elitism of lacrosse that keeps
the sport from achieving real cross-
cultural and cross-country populari-
I spoke with Michigan coach John
Paul, who assured me that the sport
is growing in cities such as Balti-
more and New York. He said that the
success of schools, like Maryland,
Johns Hopkins and Loyola (MD),
has prompted inner-city athletes in
Baltimore to pick up a lacrosse
stick. That news was very encourag-
Paul conceded, though, that here
in Ann Arbor, the high school ath-
letes who are choosing to play
lacrosse are ... I could have guessed
... white and upper-middle class.
But what if Michigan, like Mary-

land and Johns Hopkins, was a pre-
mier D-I team? How might that
affect the sports popularity among
minority and economically disad-
vantaged athletes in Ann Arbor and
Lacrosse ought to be embraced in
America because it is truly Ameri-
can. It has its origins in Iroquois
culture, but has been adopted by
contemporary non-Native American
I think part of why lacrosse hasn't
caught on nationally is the stereo-
types (stereotypes grounded in reali-
ty) surrounding it of a sport that is
both culturally and geographically
The Michigan Athletic Depart-
ment is a number of years -perhaps
as many as 20 - from promoting
its lacrosse team to full varsity sta-
tus. When it does, a new tradition
could be born - one that is as far
removed socio-economically as it is
geographically from upstate New
York and the Abercrombified culture





Earn a Master of Science degree in:
" Urban Policy Analysis and Management
" Human Resources Management
" Nonprofit Management
" Health Services Management and Policy
" Organizational Change Management
Ph.D. degree:
9 Public 6 Urban Policy


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