I first heard about the lacrosse program at the University of Great Falls through a job posting on LaxPower.com. Initially, I was very skeptical about the whole thing… First off, I had never even heard of the University of Great Falls and I’ve lived in Montana for more than 10 years. The only lacrosse that I knew of there was a small youth program that came and went in one year, and I’ve always heard about Air Force lacrosse guys there because of the nearby military base, but I’ve never actually seen any lacrosse in Great Falls or talked to anyone directly who has.
What is this college? Who are these people? Do they have any idea what they are trying to do? These were all questions that I didn’t know the answer to, so I waited to hear some more. I talked to the Athletic Director about their search for a lacrosse coach, good start. I found out a little about the college, which is an NAIA program looking to compete in the MCLA. The picture started to get a little clearer, although there were still a lot of unanswered questions.
Two weeks ago the new lacrosse coach at the University of Great Falls, Bryan Jenkins, came to Missoula for a visit and I learned a lot more. Today I reached out to him again so he can fill you all in about a program breaking new boundaries on the Lacrosse Frontier.
Coach Jenkins, what were you doing at this time last year? How did you first hear about the lacrosse program at the University of Great Falls and how did you end up in Montana?
Last year at this time I was the Head Coach at a small Division III school in upstate New York getting ready for the upcoming season. I first heard of the lacrosse program at the University of Great Falls when I saw a posting from the University looking for a head coach to start the program. I had lived in Great Falls for a short period about five years ago and loved the area and thought it was a great opportunity. The University flew me out to interview and I fell in love with UGF and the people, and I was fortunate enough to be offered the position.
What have your impressions of the college been so far?
Everything has been amazing. The thing that my wife and I are surprised by everyday is how nice and genuine everyone is here at UGF. The entire campus has a real family atmosphere, which is great to be a part of.
What have you done so far to start recruiting? What sort of support can you offer prospective players and what can they expect if they want to be a part of this team?
We have done a lot so far with recruiting, reaching out to contact I had on the East coast and many high school coaches here in Montana, Idaho, Washington, California, and Oregon. I have been on the road speaking with players and coaches as much as possible. We are a NAIA school and lacrosse will be treated as a varsity sport here. With that in mind, prospective players can expect a lot of support from the University.
When are we going to see a lacrosse team first hit the field in Great Falls? What do you think the team will look like? What will they be wearing? What are your expectations for the program in Year One?
Our goal is to start practicing and hopefully participate in a tournament this coming fall. We are currently working on scheduling and hope to have something put together soon. I expect us to have 20 players, mostly freshman, with guys coming in from all over the country. We have not finalized what we will be wearing, but we will have gear, and our school colors offer some great combination possibilities. My expectations for year one are that our team will look to be competitive immediately. I am sure we will have growing pains being a young team, but our goal is to be competitive from the start.
How does the lacrosse program plan to reach out to the local community in Great Falls? How important is it to the program to have a good relationship with the University, with the people of Great Falls, and with the rest of the Montana Lacrosse community? What do have planned so far in this regard?
Our program will be involved in many things within our community; we will look to take at least one day each semester for the whole team to volunteer within Great Falls. It is incredibly important for the team at UGF to have a positive relationship with the University, the people of Great Falls, and the rest of the Montana Lacrosse Community. We are working to offer camps and clinics around the state and to help youth programs in any way possible. It is really important for us to start a youth program in Great Falls to be a part of the state Chapter for USLacrosse. Lacrosse is booming in Montana – Helena just launched a program and I think Great Falls would be an ideal location to start the next program in this wonderful state.
And I’m also looking forward to checking out the new gear and totally agree with Coach Jenkins that there are some great possibilities at UGF. I’m sure that we’ll be following this program more throughout the year… thank you Coach Jenkins for your time!
To learn more about the University of Great Falls Men’s Lacrosse Team, check out their website.