By Hope Thompson, The Circuit.
Mark Blaise, a graduate of Benedictine College class of 2013, is returning to his roots this year as new head coach for the Men’s Lacrosse team.
During his junior year at Benedictine, Blaise, along with a few other men and women, spearheaded the lacrosse program. Four years later, the club he helped build has become an active varsity sport.
“It’s really cool to see the team go from very marginal to now being fully funded and able to play in a real league,” he said. “When I was here, we just played other club schools and now we’re playing all teams that are at a varsity level.”
Making the transition from student to faculty member isn’t a foreign concept for Blaise. After graduation, he returned to his alma mater, St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Overland Park, KS, as a lacrosse coach and social studies teacher.
“Coaching at a college level definitely comes with a few changes,” he said. “This is my full-time job now. At Aquinas, I was coaching part time, so I’m able to invest a lot more of my time into the team now.
“I’m just excited to get out there and get around the guys more. I think we’re going to be really good this year. I think we can win our league which we’ve finished fifth and fourth in previously.”
Junior lacrosse player Ethan Novacek shares the same optimistic outlook on the season. “If we become a cohesive unit, I can say with all seriousness that we can beat any team in the nation,” he said. “That’s what I love about the game.”
Novacek says from what he can tell thus far, the team dynamic has changed from last year—but he believes it to be for the better.
“With a new, sound leader and this many freshman – with loads of potential – our team could improve without a doubt,” he said. “We are a more refined, focused group overall.”
Though they are only a few weeks in to their fall season, Novacek says it’s clear to see that Blaise’s coaching style and new ideas are proving to be beneficial to the program.
Blaise says he does not foresee making any major changes to the program, however “it will be a lot of little things, and it’s the little things that make all the difference.”
“We’re definitely going to be bringing a higher level of competition.”