Cowan’s off the field leadership impacts success on the field

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Photo by Collin Nawrocki

Devon Cowan (29) fires a shot on net in Marquette’s 18-8 loss to Notre Dame April 12.

Growing up on the East Coast in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, Marquette men’s lacrosse redshirt sophomore attacker Devon Cowan was always surrounded by the game he admired.

With a father who played lacrosse at New England College and a mother who played field hockey for Montclair State University, Cowan was no stranger to the sport of lacrosse as a child. 

“They were always so supportive of me, asking me what sports I wanted to play when I was older,” Cowan said. “I played soccer and basketball as well growing up, so besides lacrosse, other sports were definitely a huge part of my childhood.”

Now, as one of Marquette’s prolific scorers, Cowan has shown his ability to score goals on the field at a proficient level, something he’s been no stranger to throughout his life.  

“I think right from the get-go, having two parents as former collegiate athletes kind of drove my competitiveness to where it’s at today,” Cowan said. “They never forced me to play lacrosse either, the sport just stole my heart.”

Although Cowan states his desire of playing lacrosse was never forced, his father, Shay, definitely had an influence, serving as Cowan’s coach from third to eighth grade.  

“It was kind of the best of both worlds,” Cowan said. “He was definitely the hardest on me, which made me grow some thicker skin, but I loved it. My dad taught me basically everything I know now, so he’s had a major influence on my career.”  

As a two-time captain at The Hun School of Princeton, Cowan tallied a total of 110 high school goals and led his team to become 2018 and 2019 Class A State Champions.

His high school accolades don’t stop there, as he was also named the 2019 Trentonian Times Boys Lacrosse Player of the Year for the state of New Jersey.  

Coming into Marquette ranked as the No. 34 attacker in the class of 2019, Cowan has scored in 25 of the 27 games he’s played in since arriving in Milwaukee.

After not scoring against Bellarmine in February of 2020, just his second collegiate game, Cowan would go on a 20-game scoring streak, a run that would last over two years that reinforced his breakout season last year. 

“No credit goes to me, it goes to the entire team,” Cowan said. “Without those nine others guys on the field and those 50-plus guys on the bench, I wouldn’t have been able to do it alone.”

In 2021, Cowan had a team-high 30 goals and eight assists in just 12 games, scoring in every contest as a redshirt first-year. He would see his historic goal scoring run come to an end on March 1 this year against Michigan after playing through with a broken thumb suffered the game before against Utah. 

He would then undergo thumb surgery shortly after that game against the Wolverines and miss the team’s next four games. Prior to the injury, Cowan was second on the team in terms of most goals scored, only behind first-year attacker Bobby O’Grady. 

“It was kind of hard to lose that streak, but it’s a lot more than that,” Cowan said. “As a captain sitting on the sidelines, it was pretty rough. Since I’ve been at Marquette, I’ve had that leadership role on the field, so I went through a small phase of about a month of trying to find my role off the field.” 

Whether in the huddle or on the sidelines, head coach Andrew Stimmel said Cowan’s leadership towards others will always be on full display.  

“Devon’s the voice of our team, whether that’s getting the guys organized in practice or leading them during a game,” Stimmel said. “Obviously it hurt to watch him be on the sidelines for a while, but he had everyone’s backs and still showed his confidence in his guys.” 

Graduate student midfielder Jacob Hallam said Cowan’s leadership off the field is what truly makes him stand out as a leader. 

“He’s really helped me with my faith, and I know that’s been a huge thing for him as well,” Hallam said. “He’s pushed me to become better with my faith and I think that’s just the teammate he is, always pushing the best out of you. If I’m not working as hard as Devon Cowan then there’s something wrong.” 

Despite missing a key stretch of the regular season, Cowan returned to the field against Providence in Marquette’s BIG EAST opener April 2 and scored his first hat-trick of the season.  

“As a team, we’ve been better offensively when he’s out there on the field no doubt,” Stimmel said. “He’s just a shot of energy that is so skillful around the opponent’s net, whether that’s scoring or showing off his mobility.” 

Since his return to action, Cowan has recorded 12 goals and five assists in four games. In the month of March that featured Cowan’s absence, the Golden Eagles dropped three-straight games.  

“I’m just grateful to be back out on the field, the stats don’t really matter to me right now,” Cowan said. “I’m just happy that I’m able to contribute in any way possible, and to put the pads back on and strap it up with the boys, you just can’t beat it.” 

Although Stimmel might agree that at the end of the day it’s not all about the stats on the scoresheet, the third-year coach can’t deny what makes Cowan a nightmare for opposing defenses.  

“He’s such a poised player who also has a ton of aggression and is very physical, which makes him so hard to defend,” Stimmel said. “He’s also just a great facilitator, setting up his teammates around him to score through the use of his quickness, something you don’t see every player possessing.” 

Despite Cowan’s stats not being where they were last season due to his midseason injury, Stimmel said he still believes the attacker can only go up from here.  

“He has pro-level potential, and I firmly believe that,” Stimmel said. “In my mind, he’s just scraping the surface, and I’m excited to see where that takes him the next couple of years at Marquette.” 

This story was written by Sam Arco. He can be reached at samuel.arco@marquette.edu or on Twitter @SamArcoMU