As the temperatures drop in Milwaukee, the Marquette men’s lacrosse team is shifting its focus from practicing at Valley Fields to working out at the Al McGuire Center.
Winter workouts create an opportunity for the athletes to train at a higher level with no worries about recovery in time for a game.
The players lift four days a week and spend two more days concentrating on speed training. Lifting sessions are overseen by strength and conditioning coach Todd Smith and assistant coach Scott Rodgers.
Rodgers is entering his second year with the Marquette lacrosse staff. Aside from coaching, he spends his time playing goalie for the U.S. national team and the Hamilton Nationals, a member of Major League Lacrosse.
Coach Joe Amplo reached out to Rodgers and invited him to join the coaching staff while Rodgers was playing professionally in Minnesota.
“(Rodgers) has this big personality and has this demeanor about him that captivates anybody he speaks with,” Amplo said. “Watching him work at some camps and seeing him teach the game, I noticed he was a great teacher. I thought if we can get this guy on our staff, he would be great to have.”
According to Rodgers, Marquette is recruiting “hard-working” and “blue collar” student-athletes. This reminds Rodgers a lot of himself as an All-American selection at MacArthur High School on Long Island.
Amplo was among many other college coaches who tried to recruit Rodgers. Rodgers went on to play for Notre Dame and led the Fighting Irish to the 2010 NCAA Championship. He brings an athlete’s perspective to the coaching staff.
“The fact that I still play and am an assistant coach, I have a different relationship with these guys,” Rodgers said. “I share my experiences with (the players), and we get on the same page with what they’re going through at the same time.”
With Smith as a mentor, Rodgers has been able to mix up the lifting workouts when he oversees the morning sessions. His exercises put an emphasis on body building, while Smith is more of an Olympic lifting trainer. The mix of both helps improve the overall fitness of the players.
Redshirt freshman BJ Grill is one of several members of the team who attends all the extra lifting sessions, for which he said he wakes up before 6 a.m. Not only is this a chance for him to bulk up and make up for a lack of size, but he sees it as an opportunity to strengthen team chemistry.
“I go to the morning workouts because we have developed a huge bond between the guys that go early,” Grill said. “It helps us develop a relationship by doing extra work together and doing more different types of workouts aside from the standard lifts.”
Amplo said the athletes spending extra time in the weight room demonstrate that Smith and Rodgers are creating a comfortable atmosphere for the athletes to further their fitness.
“The (athletes) getting up earlier two days a week serves as an indication that those guys enjoy what they’re doing,” Amplo said. “It speaks that those guys really want to get the most out of themselves.”
Fewer than 75 days remain until the men’s lacrosse team takes the field at Michigan, where the players hope to see the benefits and rewards of their winter training.