By Andrew James
The following article is featured in the January 2020 special edition of The Campus, The Beaverbeat.
Here is Connor Wilson, recently appointed coach for the new lacrosse team at The City College of New York. When he sat down with The Campus, he expressed his enthusiasm for the sport and was able to detail the history of lacrosse culture at CCNY.
The lacrosse team at City College was founded in 1888 and at the time competed nationally. The team itself faced challenges throughout the years, causing the sport to fall off City College athletics culture. Wilson assumed the role of head coach in September of this year, which was the result of the incentive to revive the lacrosse team by the alumni of City College, including Doug Marino who was co-captain and Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the team in 1971.
As a child, Coach Wilson was active in various sports in native Austin, TX, he recalled, “My dad played lacrosse in high school. My mom played lacrosse. We had those old funky wooden sticks from the 1960s in our garage. Me, my brother, and my sister were kind of intrigued by these weird wooden sticks. They were unlike any sports equipment that we had ever seen. We started playing in the side yard and both my parents taught us how to play. In March, we take out the lacrosse sticks, in June, we put them away.”
He would later join the lacrosse team at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, winning a total of 45-50 games in his career. His experience at Wesleyan led him into coaching college and high school teams, traveling the past ten years before settling in New York City in 2014.
At City College, Coach Wilson went straight to work. He spent the first few months getting to know his team and was astounded with their serious priorities, he states, “They take their academics seriously and I’m a big believer in that. College sports have gotten too professional, especially at the Division I level. We’ve had one of the higher GPA on campus, especially with the lacrosse club… [The players] are here to create an opportunity and a pathway for themselves. To focus on sports too much is a big mistake.” At least 28 people of various experience levels expressed interest in the club, four of them women.
For Coach Wilson, the lacrosse team is more than a sport, it is a community, “One of the best things about playing on a team is the connection that you make with your teammates. You get to see these people every day in a non-academic environment. It’s a great stress reliever. It allows them to take their minds off of what’s going on in their lives for 1 ½ or two hours a day. The opportunity to build that culture is something I look forward to.”
Despite a slow start, Wilson believes in his team. His team will begin practicing in February and the first games will take place in March. He looks forward to upgrading the lacrosse team to Division III status. But Coach Wilson will never forget his roots and hopes to share the same opportunities lacrosse created for him, “I really think that over the next few years we can make this club-team a really fun experience for anybody who steps on the field. They have a great chance to learn and a great place of community and support, regardless of status.”