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The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Richard brings experiences from PLL back to alma mater in coaching role

(Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

Through all the transition and continuity, lacrosse and Marquette have been intertwined with Jake Richard.

Richard began his collegiate lacrosse career in 2013, the same year that Marquette kicked off its inaugural season. Richard played in the program’s first game and its first win in 2013. In 2016, Richard captained the Golden Eagles to their first Big East championship title and NCAA tournament appearance.

But, Richard’s lacrosse career didn’t end there.

He was selected in the fourth round of the 2016 Major League Lacrosse draft by the New York Lizards. At the time, the Lizards were the most prominent lacrosse club in the league, having won two of the first three championships and being just a couple years removed from a championship season.

Richard said it was a tough but familiar experience heading into the pros.

“Here I was a nobody from Marquette and it was a familiar place for me,” Richard said. “I had been a nobody coming out of high school and going to college.”

At Marquette, Richard said he was able to make the new program his own and build his toughness throughout the process.

“All of us felt like we were under-recruited and carried a chip on our shoulder when we competed,” Richard said. “Going through those moments in the early years with that chip and really getting our butts kicked allowed us to grow as players and to really achieve our full potential.”

That toughness stuck with Richard as he navigated his first season with the Lizards.

“Carrying that chip and being a guy who’s from a non-traditional program at the pro level I carried that same mentality as I took those next steps,” Richard said.

Richard was on the roster as a player from game one on Feb. 23, 2013 until graduation on May 22, 2016 and started as an assistant coach on July 29, 2016. That means, in Marquette lacrosse history, there have been two months where Richard wasn’t officially involved with the program.

Head coach Andrew Stimmel said that Richard is helpful on more than just a coaching level.

“It’s a unique connection point for our guys to be able to look at him and understand he’s walked in the shoes, he’s gone through winter in Milwaukee, he’s been a freshman,” Stimmel said. “All those things are not only helpful for him connecting to players, but it’s helpful for us.”

After just a couple seasons in the MLL, Richard made the swap over to the Premier Lacrosse League where he earned an All-Star selection in 2018 with Atlas LC. In 2020, the MLL announced it would be absorbed into the PLL where Richard has a contract with Atlas through the 2024 season.

Richard said coaching and playing at the same time is a balancing act. With the PLL season in the summer, he said it means he has to sacrifice some recruiting trips for Marquette.

“It ends up balancing itself out because most pro lacrosse players coach in their areas, so I have access through those relationships to most places in the country,” Richard said. “Lacrosse is such a small community that you can be one or two calls away from everybody at any time.”

Senior defender Mason Woodward said it’s been an advantage knowing that his coach is playing against the best lacrosse players in the world.

“Knowing that he’s going against the best players in the world is super cool because in the summer we get to support him when he’s playing,” Woodward said. “But also knowing that he’s also playing with the best players and he can give us tips from people he plays with.”

Throughout the ebbs and flows of professional lacrosse, Stimmel said Richard has been able to use his experience to grow as a coach.

“He’s learned how to do a really good job of taking what we have and playing to our strengths,” Stimmel said. “A lot of that has to do with him developing as a coach and the work he puts in. But, playing at that level is a really cool opportunity to learn from other guys and to learn other approaches.”

Woodward just passed Richard for second place on Marquette’s all-time career ground balls chart this past weekend against Providence.

Richard said he hopes Woodward can surpass not only his number but also achieve greater lacrosse heights.

I believe Mason is a bonafide first or second rounder in the pro draft. He absolutely has a future, among other guys within our unit,” Richard said. “In terms of preparing Mason, he’s a guy that does everything the right way. He maintains an incredible attitude and you can tell how much he loves the game by how hard he plays, so there’s not much coaching or development to do.” 

After watching Richard’s games, Woodward said that he makes sure to give his coach feedback.

I always text him after games when he plays and let him know what I think he did well or bad. And usually, he thinks it’s way worse than it actually was,” Woodward said. “I try and be a big fan of his because he’s there watching us every single day and supporting us in our games, so it’s pretty cool that we get to do the same for him.” 

Stimmel said that Richard playing professional lacrosse has helped to grow the university name and hopes that more players will be able to do the same in the future.

“We hope some other guys that are coming up here in the next couple of years will be able to keep growing the brand of Marquette,” Stimmel said. “It’s an awesome thing for the university. It’s an awesome thing for our program to be able to have guys that are playing in this league on the biggest stage.”

Richard said he’s happy to be a representation for Marquette at the top of the game.

I carry a tremendous amount of pride being from Marquette at the pro level,” Richard said. “And I know my teammates who are also at the pro level wearing Marquette on their chest or wearing Marquette on the bus, we all carry that pride of taking a different path.” 

This story was written by John Gunville. He can be reached at j[email protected] or on Twitter @GunvilleJohn.

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About the Contributor
John Gunville
John Gunville, Sports Reporter
John is a Sports Reporter at the Wire. He is a senior from Hartland, WI studying international affairs and Spanish and minoring in economics. In his free time, John enjoys playing on the Birdhouse ultimate frisbee team and has been to over 200 Marquette men's basketball games. This year John is looking forward to growing as a writer and share his passion for Marquette sports.

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