Marquette Men’s Lacrosse: Amplo keeps squad upbeat

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The Men's Lacrosse team trains at practice. Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.

There aren’t any games until next spring, but that doesn’t mean the Marquette men’s lacrosse team isn’t working towards the 2013 season – the Golden Eagles inaugural season. It started fall practices on Sept. 20 and will continue to fine-tune its skills throughout the fall.

Coach Joe Amplo said his biggest concern is establishing his team’s culture on campus, and the most obvious place to start is on the practice field.

“It’s hard to put a finger on what’s going well lacrosse-wise because we aren’t going to be able judge ourselves against anybody else for a long time,” Amplo said. “I think what is definitely going well is the work ethic of this group as they have bought into that challenge of establishing a culture.”

Practices usually begin with a stretch then proceed into stick drills and positional scrimmage-style drills.

Amplo said his approach to teaching is simplistic as he tries to break the game down into its most basic aspects, while instilling in his players his own style of play.

“We want the guys to do things our way and in line with the way we teach fundamentals,” Amplo said. “There’s a specific way for us to pick up a ground ball or throw the ball around the outside of the offensive zone or have our defensemen break down on the ball when going against an offensive player.”

Sophomore defender Steve Abba and junior defender Jerry Nobile followed Amplo to Marquette from Hofstra University, where Amplo coach previously. Both players appreciate Amplo’s coaching style.

“He’s always pushing everyone to do their best and even pushes the younger guys to step up and be leaders,” Abba said. “He likes to keep practice upbeat and make sure that we are excited about everything we do, be it outdoors, in the weight room or in the classroom.”

Nobile said Amplo’s sense of humor is appealing. It helps keep practices from being “too serious” and more upbeat, while getting the basic points across.

“At some parts he’s just one of the boys,” Nobile said.

While it’s too early, as both players put it, for anything to be going wrong, Amplo admitted there are several issues he had not thought about before practices commenced.

“There are a lot of things I didn’t anticipate in being the head coach of a new program,” Amplo said. “For example, we’re looking at the schedule for 2013 right now, and I hadn’t put as much thought into attracting teams to come play here. So we are still trying to find the right teams to play our home games against.”

Despite these concerns about the team’s first season, Amplo’s chief concern for the fall remains with the construction of the team’s culture.

“I think it’s as simple as how we’re going to walk through campus and how we are going to engage the community,” Amplo said. “We’re going to smile at people, hold open doors and be students first, but it all carries over to the lacrosse field. If we master handling the little details like how we dress and where we put our equipment, the lacrosse part comes easily to these guys.”