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Men’s Lacrosse | Once again, Jumbos take to the battlefield

‘Judgment Day’ training weekend arrives for defending national champs

Published: Friday, March 4, 2011

Updated: Friday, March 4, 2011 07:03

Lacrosse

Courtesy Drew Innis

Part of last year’s training regimen involved carrying teammates the length of a lacrosse field.

The men's lacrosse team may not have any scrimmages lined up for the last Saturday before the start of its regular season, but that hardly means a weekend off for the Jumbos. On Sunday and Monday, the team will hit the pool deck, the gym and the practice field, as it participates in its second−annual Judgment Day training program, as the team has dubbed it.

Hosted by Program Athletics, based in Woburn, Mass., the two−day program aims to improve teamwork and develop leadership skills. Coach Mike Daly (LA '95) implemented the program last spring after Program Athletics employee and former Marine Eric Kapitulik reached out to Tufts. Over the course of two days, the Jumbos were pushed to their physical and mental limit. The team last year won the school's first Div. III NCAA team championship.

This year, a young squad adds 13 freshmen to the 44−man roster, and with just over a week until the Jumbos' March 12 season−opener against NESCAC−rival Amherst, the team hopes to reinforce the skills Judgment Day emphasizes.

"I was able to see some of what the team participated in last year during [senior Arlin Ladue's] documentary, ‘Road to the Championship' (2010), but I don't really know what to expect," first−year attackman Jack McDermott said. "Judging by what I've heard from the upperclassmen, it's challenging, yet an incredibly worthwhile experience for our betterment."

The team's seasoned veterans can anticipate some of what Kapitulik will demand of them, but senior quad−captain Ryan Molloy said that even returning players could be in for a few twists when Sunday afternoon rolls around.

"All of the guys who competed in Judgment Day last year tried to instill what we learned into the freshmen and create recurring themes for them," Molloy, an attackman, said. "I think we are a little more prepared this year, but at the same time, we have no idea what they're going to throw at us, so it's almost like we're going into it blind again."

Last year, the Jumbos' were pushed to their physical boundaries, treading water in full sweatsuits and carrying teammates the length of a lacrosse field. But the program also tested players' mental strength and leadership capacities. Daly has stressed mental toughness during the offseason.

"Personally, the most challenging part of Judgment Day is when you're called out to lead the team," Molloy said. "You have to remember all the instructions, compete in all the events and delegate to teammates what you want them to do. But that's also the most beneficial part."

From their American−flag−themed helmets to their camouflaged shooting shirts, patriotism is a core principle for Daly's squad. The team aims to emulate the military's values of commitment each time it takes the field.

The military presence at Judgment Day puts the Jumbos' season in perspective.

"If people are willing to risk their lives for a greater cause, then we should certainly be able to focus and practice in a game," McDermott said.

The Jumbos feel that they are well conditioned for Kapitulik's challenge. Throughout the fall, the team worked out during captains' practices and conditioned in the weight room almost daily to reach their physical peaks for the season.

"One thing we learned last year was never to just get through something but to attack it," junior midfielder Kevin McCormick said. "That's something about Judgment Day. There's no way to get by doing the bare minimum. I think our upperclassmen will really help the young guys, too, but we're going to really work at pushing it."

The veterans also feel that they have more to gain from participating in another Judgment Day. Molloy explained that, last year, the lessons the team learned defined the season.

"When it came to the tight games we were able to pull it out and come up with big plays like we really hadn't before," he said.

According to McCormick, a national−championship−caliber team must continue to embody Kapitulik's lessons of teamwork, leadership and persistence far past the Marine's early−March visit.

"The staff is only there for two days, so the choice is left up to the team of whether we just want to get better for two days and go through the motions or whether we're going to get better the whole season," McCormick said. "[Last year] we decided to take what we learned from Judgment Day and got better the whole season."

Sometimes, Judgment Day boils down to refining even the most basic skills.

"We worked on doing one perfect jumping jack," Daly said. "The point Eric hammered home to our guys was that if we don't have the discipline and attention to do one perfect jumping jack, how could we expect to apply that in a whole lacrosse game where there are so many other moving factors and scenarios?"

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